NZ government makes apology over Dawn Raids targeting Pasifika

The New Zealand government apologises to the Pasifika community for the Dawn Raids immigration crackdown in the 1970s at the Auckland Town Hall today. Image: Photo: Marika Khabazi/RNZ

RNZ Pacific

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today delivered the government’s apology for the Dawn Raids against Pasifika overstayers.

She apologised for the raids in the 1970s which happened under both Labour and National governments.

“The government expresses its sorrow, remorse and regret that the Dawn Raids and random police checks occurred and that these actions were ever considered appropriate,” she said in the cultural ceremony at the Auckland Town Hall.

“Our government conveys to the future generations of Aotearoa that the past actions of the Crown were wrong, and that the treatment of your ancestors was wrong. We convey to you our deepest and sincerest apology.”

The Dawn Raids resulted in the deportation and prosecution of many Pacific Islanders, even those who remotely looked Pasifika, despite many overstayers at the time being British or American.

Both major political parties have accepted that the raids were racist.

RNZ Pacific sat down with the Minister for Pacific Peoples ‘Aupito William Sio earlier today, in his only radio interview before standing alongside Ardern, as she said sorry for the racist immigration policy that tore Pasifika families apart.

Understandably with the long work programme this apology has required of him (there has only ever been two formal government apologies meeting human injustice criteria), a number of portfolios and a pandemic continuing to ravage the Pacific, ‘Aupito said he was nervous for today’s proceedings.

“I feel the weight of responsibility from the government but also the weight of responsibility from our communities,” he said. “So, all of that, I feel.”

A formal request for an apology had been made to the prime minister’s office from the Polynesian Panthers early last year, Aupito said.

Watch the RNZ live coverage of the ceremony:


This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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