WHY WE EXIST
Migrants are often enticed into accepting jobs in New Zealand and as a nation we have relied on these workers. They are often leave their home country in debt, arrive with little knowledge of their rights and responsibilities, have little or no support, while also being faced with the disadvantage of language and cultural barriers. Many New Zealanders will understand the magnitude of financial and mental harm this causes workers.
The Migrant Exploitation Relief Foundation (MERF) wants to end this cycle for good. As a foundation we provide the necessary education and knowledge to migrants coming into the country to make sure they have a clear path to follow so they never find themselves in an exploitative situation. The Foundation also supports migrants wanting to leave situations where they are being exploited, without it negatively impacting their immigration status.
Our leadership ensures robust action is taken against exploitative employers, while also developing an information and education action plan. This is to guarantee that migrant workers understand their rights and how to report exploitation.
Without this service migrant workers are left feeling cornered, not knowing if they should share their experience and risk deportation or continue with the same mistreatment and abuse. MERF acts as an important wraparound service providing shelter, a job seeking platform and a place to live. This establishes a safety net for migrants who feel stuck and encourage them to come forward.
MERF has committed to the prevention of exploitation and the protection of migrants.
To enable a lifeline for migrants or temporary workers most in need that is safe, dependable, and in their best interest.
DELIVERING THE VISION
Assist victims of human trafficking and modern slavery on their path to recovery, and work with companies and agencies to combat this terrible reality.
We work with industry to enable safe working environments and fair pay.
We help integrate victims back into communities and support them on their next endeavour.
Promote the values of integrity, compassion and inclusion
Offer advice and support to victims, so they feel safe and lead successful lives in whatever path they choose.
We help fight for migrants rights to be a part of the New Zealand community. Whether through policy and law changes or community acceptance.
We believe honesty and strong moral principles are the foundation of any relationship.
We exist to help, with sympathy and concern for misfortune and suffering.
We conduct ourselves in a caring and empathetic manner.
Steve is a Partner in the Crown Specialist practice group at Meredith Connell.
Steve has developed a strong enforcement litigation practice acting for a number of government agencies including, amongst others, Immigration New Zealand.
Casey has over 40 years experience in law enforcement and security management.
In addition she has been an employee advocate and currently works to represent exploited workers in New Zealand.
Cameron has a background with the NZ Police and Immigration NZ.
This background highlighted the impact to at risk persons and the reality of their life in New Zealand leading Cameron to be the driving force for MERF.
Clayton is a former Member of Parliament and Tauranga City Councillor.
As an MP he as dealt with issues of exploitation first hand, and believes New Zealand can, and must, do better.
Peter has had careers with NZ Police (33 years) and more latterly with Immigration NZ (INZ).
He has experienced first hand the reality for victims in New Zealand and understands the need for practical support for the exploited.
Christina Stringer is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Research on Modern Slavery at the University of Auckland Business School.
She has been researching migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand for a decade and continues to work in this area.