2 Apr 2017

Deported father worked 'like a slave' by pastor

2:05 pm on 2 April 2017

A father-of-five who claims he was offered a job as a church youth pastor and then made to work "like a slave" in an orchard has been deported.

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Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Uasi Siatulau, from Samoa, said within days of arriving in April 2015 he was put to work and his family was forced to pay his board from his wages

The immigration and protection tribunal heard Immigration New Zealand advised the 33-year-old to complain to police over his allegations of people trafficking and slavery.

It had referred the case to its fraud branch for further investigation.

Mr Siatulau told the tribunal he had left a job in Samoa for a new beginning in an unnamed town and had been deceived.

"The church pastor had provided false information in order to bring him here and had treated him like a slave," he told the tribunal, according to its notes.

"The church had few members and there was no youth group for him to work with as a pastor.

"He had been told that he would receive income and his family would have their own accommodation.

"He had to pay the pastor $250 weekly to cover expenses. His family had spent six months living with the pastor and paid him a total of $6000 while the appellant had worked in the orchard.

"He believed that he had been deceived into coming here under the pretence of working as a church pastor in order to be made to work in the orchard and slave for the pastor."

But it said the man had worked in the orchard knowing that his visa only allowed him to work as a youth pastor.

Mr Siatulau, who worked as a police officer in Samoa, was also convicted of assaulting a child, for which he was sentenced to 125 hours' community work and nine months' supervision.

It said it was not apparent whether Mr Siatulau had laid complaints with the police or Labour Inspectorate.

He appealed his deportation order, saying his family had been victims of the pastor.

But the tribunal said that did not provide justification for them to remain in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand said it was still investigating this case and as such could make no further comment.