Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Human Trafficking Discourses in Aotearoa New Zealand: A Discourse Analysis of Narratives from Non-Governmental and News Media Organisations.

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posted on 2024-06-14, 02:26 authored by Grace Morton

In 2016 and 2020, two separate prosecutions of human trafficking in Aotearoa New Zealand drew attention to the fact that human trafficking exists within the country. As local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and news media organisations (NMOs) play an essential role in raising awareness of human trafficking in Aotearoa New Zealand, it is critical to analyse the spatiotemporal contexts and power structures that underpin their narratives to question whether these organisations may be perpetuating norms that negatively impact how human trafficking is understood. Currently, research into human trafficking discourses promoted by NGOs and NMOs is limited. Utilising a post-development lens and a human rights-based approach (HRBA), this thesis deploys a discourse analysis of publicly available website material from six Aotearoa New Zealand-based NGOs and NMOs, published between 2016 and 2022. Specifically, it analyses material related to four key events connected to human trafficking in Aotearoa New Zealand: the convictions of Faroz Ali in 2016 and Joseph Matamata in 2020; the petition for modern slavery legislation in 2020; and the public consultation on modern slavery legislation in 2022. The research identifies prevailing human trafficking discourses from local NGOs and NMOs and examines how these discourses are interwoven within broader national and international narratives and contexts. The findings of this research outline dominant representations across three areas: firstly, the framing of human trafficking as modern slavery and potential implications thereof; secondly, the ways that gendered representations can impact perceptions of people who are trafficked; and finally, how framings of Aotearoa New Zealand’s reputation drive the narrative of human trafficking as a foreign issue. Based on these findings, this research proposes how an HRBA could guide organisations, especially to increase narratives that promote empowerment, non-discrimination, and equality.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License


Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280116 Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture; 280123 Expanding knowledge in human society

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Schindler, Mirjam; Zonjić, Maja