Joseph Matamata went to court last year. His 11-year sentence is now extended – he must serve at least five years before he can apply for a sentence. Photo / NZME
Shameless self-proclaimed hawk gardener, Joseph Awga Matamata, has lost his appeal against the slave labor of his migrant workers.
But he must serve at least five years from the 11-year sentence handed down by the Napier High Court in July last year.
Twelve months ago, Magistrate Helen Cool rejected a crown bid, and Matamata, 66, married slaves and 10 people were convicted of human trafficking.
He refused the five-week trial of the 13 men who brought him from Samoa to New Zealand and worked for 25 years, but the verdict came.
The final verdict was handed down today by Judge Fory Miller, Dennis Clifford, and David Collins.
Crown lawyers argued that the sentence should be 15-16 years and that the minimum grace period should be at least half.
It was considered the first attempt at slavery in New Zealand, and it included evidence that the victims, often members of the Matamata close family, had come to New Zealand with the promise of a better life and money to return home to Samoa.
Complainants testified that they were working at unreasonable charges, working at unreasonable hours, doing homework, being assaulted, and being arrested at the contractor’s Campbell home.
On one occasion, Matamata fled to Auckland and was tracked down by an offender who confirmed his return to Hawk Bay.
The judges agreed that the minimum term for slave crimes could not be applied, but that the threshold must be higher in terms of the list of trafficking cases, ”because the court had to comply. It was a time when they took some kind of abuse out of the ordinary.
“Considering the magnitude and duration of the crime, we think Matamata’s guilt was high enough,” the judges said.
“This appeal has caused us some problems,” he said. We are willing to set a minimum time when the trial judge does not deem it necessary.
Citing the judge’s age, the appellate judges said, “Although he has refused, in our opinion the risk is low because he is less likely to get a chance.”
They accepted the Crown’s offer that general denial and accountability were important factors in the nature of the offense and that “in this case, the application of force.”
“The calculated trade deficit was widespread and long-term,” he said.
“He came to power through abuse of power and serious and long-term abuses by many victims,” he said.
As the main body; Matata sold $ 183,000 in damages to the complainants by selling out of interest in the Cambridge home where some of the culprits were.