Witch doctors targeting vulnerable Kiwis

Witch doctors targeting vulnerable Kiwis

Indian witch doctors are arriving in New Zealand on tourist or temporary work visas and duping vulnerable Kiwis into forking out thousands of dollars.

One Auckland man has lost almost $12,000, and after being alerted by 3 News, Immigration New Zealand says it's investigating.

Indian Community Leader Pratima Nand is on a crusade against what she calls "witch doctors". She's gone undercover with 3 News and says they're using New Zealand as a test market.

"They are destroying families, they are sucking people in. A friend of mine has been sucked up to $1400 with no results. Somebody has to take action," she says.

Witchcraft practitioners in south Auckland are not hard to find. In one newspaper alone there were three ads, all offering 100 percent lifelong protection from black magic, money problems and marriage problems.

Most witch doctors are here on tourist or temporary work visas and they advertise hourly on a local Indian TV channel, Apna.

3 News found one healer in south Auckland in a tiny room behind a legitimate clothing store in Otahuhu.

Ms Nand tells him a false story of wanting to reunite with her husband after 17 years. She's told 15 prayers will cost her $420. 

Ms Nand says she was given a small container and told to take it to the bank and put the money in it.

"He said all the black magic will get trapped into this and then I give back to him with the money." 

Six days later at her next visit, the healer tells her the black magic has grown so strong she's told he must pray another nine times – but he will need more cash. 

3 News paid a visit to the witch doctor to clarify some things. He won't front, but his wife does.

"We are praying to God," she says.

She says they do not accept any money from anyone and there is no guarantee they can solve any problems.

Nearby in Papatoetoe there is a different healer with the same story. A woman was also the only one to front when 3 News visited.

Immigration New Zealand says it has "identified several individuals who appear to be involved in this type of activity and we are currently investigating".

"We are unable to make any substantive comment while that investigation is underway."

It says anyone receiving payment for this type of activity would be in breach of his or her visa conditions, regardless of whether they're in New Zealand on a visitor or temporary work visa.

For at least half a dozen Indian healers in Wellington and Auckland, officials say that now means deportation.

3 News