2 Mar 2020

Slavery trial: Boy describes being beaten and stabbed by defendant Joseph Matamata

6:25 pm on 2 March 2020

A teenage boy has described being beaten, stabbed and fed stale food by the man accused of using him as slave in Hawke's Bay.

Joseph Auga Matamata aka Viliamu Samu in court

Joseph Auga Matamata aka Viliamu Samu in court Photo: RNZ/ Anusha Bradley

He is the last and youngest of the 13 complainants to give evidence against Hastings-based Samoan chief, Joseph Matamata, who denies 24 charges of for human trafficking and slavery over a 26-year period.

The jury in the trial at the High Court in Napier watched a two-hour video interview the boy gave to police and Immigration New Zealand in April last year, shortly after being removed from Matamata's care.

The boy, who has name suppression, was adopted at age 12 in Samoa by him in 2016 and brought to New Zealand in November that year on the understanding he would be attending school.

In the video he described being regularly beaten with a bamboo stick, a belt, or a piece of timber by the accused for not doing his chores properly.

"When the bamboo stick breaks, then it's the belt. When he gets a sore hand from the belt, from holding the belt, then that's when the stick comes," he said in the video.

He also described being stabbed in the arm with a pair of secauteurs that Matamata had thrown at him, who later told a doctor treating him at Hawke's Bay Hospital that it was accidentally caused by falling on a nail.

The boy, now aged 15, also said in the video Matamata and his wife often kept him home from school so he could work in the orchards.

"When they're in a good mood I go to school, and if they are not, that's when I go to work," he told the interviewer through a translator.

With screens around the defendant to sheild him from the boy's view, he also admitted he hadn't been to school for several months in Samoa before arriving in New Zealand and once here he often got into trouble for fighting with other students.

But he denied ever asking Matamata or his wife to work in the fields with his adopted brothers instead of going to school.

He also described another beating he received by the accused for watching television instead of doing the dishes.

"He grabbed cables and came and beat me with it. He asked me to open the garage door but while I was doing that he hit be from behind with the broom, and the broom snapped in two."

He walked or biked to school but he wasn't allowed to leave the house any other times, he said.

He also described having to regularly eat stale food at Matamata's house, but under cross examination in person by defence lawyer Roger Philip he said the accused would buy him fast food as a treat after work on Saturdays.