A recruiter for New Zealand's seasonal workers scheme for Pacific Islanders from Vanuatu has rejected claims from the United States the scheme is verging on human trafficking and debt-bonded labour.
Last month, the US State Department released its 2011 Human Trafficking Report, which raised concerns the scheme is being abused.
Under the program, workers from Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands go to New Zealand to work in the horticulture industry.
Vanuatu entered the scheme in 2007 and several thousand workers have gone and worked in New Zealand for various lengths of time.
Ni-Vanuatu recruiter, John Salong has told Pacific Beat the Pacific workers participating in the New Zealand seasonal workers scheme are being paid correctly and are not being exploited.
He said Vanuatu's economy was also benefiting from the program.
"The workers are spending their money on... one, improving the education of their children, two, improving housing, three, improving their social and cultural obligations or reinvesting in the social capital of this country," he said.
US Ambassador-at-Large for human trafficking matters Luis CdeBaca defended comments made in the State Department report.
Mr CdeBaca said if anyone gets into debt travelling to work, and is forced to clear that debt before being allowed to leave, then the law is being breached.
"If someone is not free to leave their workplace because they're being held for some sort of coercion, that's not bad business practise, that's slavery," he said.