Jacinda Ardern announces New Zealand will formally apologise racist dawn raids


Jacinda Ardern announces New Zealand will formally apologise for racist 1970s policy of police storming into Pacific Islander homes hunting for migrant workers who had overstayed their visas

  • Jacinda Ardern announced she will make a state apology for racist 1970s raids
  • The ‘dawn raids’ forty years ago saw non-white people were targeted by officials
  • They were believed to have overstayed visas purely on the basis of their ethnicity
  • Ms Ardern will give the apology on Saturday June 26 at Auckland Town Hall










New Zealand’s minister for Pacific peoples has broken down after announcing the government will deliver a formal apology for racist raids in the 1970s.

On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the time had come to deliver an apology for the ‘dawn raids’, when officials targeted non-white people believed to have overstayed their visas purely on the basis of their ethnicity. 

‘The dawn raids period is a defining one in New Zealand’s history,’ Ms Ardern said.

‘Many members of our Pacific community still struggle to talk about their experiences during that period… (the raids) were routinely severe with demeaning verbal and physical treatment.

‘To this day Pacific communities face prejudices and stereotypes… an apology can never reduce what happened, or undo the decades of disadvantage experienced as a result, but it can contribute to healing for Pacific peoples.’

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) has announced her intention to deliver a state apology for race-based raids in the 1970s

The practice took place under both of New Zealand's major political parties. Pictured: Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William (left) and Jacinda Ardern (right)

The practice took place under both of New Zealand’s major political parties. Pictured: Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William (left) and Jacinda Ardern (right)

The practice took place under both of New Zealand’s major political parties, beginning under Labour PM Norman Kirk and continuing during the days of National’s Robert Muldoon.

Ms Ardern says she will give the apology on Saturday June 26 at Auckland Town Hall.

Alongside the prime minister for the announcement was Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio, whose family was among those targeted.

‘I don’t think there was any Pacific family who was not impacted by the dawn raids,’ he said.

After moving from Samoa to Aotearoa as a child, Mr Sio said his father had nephews stay in his garage during the oppression.

‘Some of them were here legitimate. Others, their visas had expired,’ he said.

‘You have to remember, we felt as a community that we were invited to come to New Zealand.

The 'dawn raids' (pictured) were a period during the 1970s when officials targeted non-white people believed to have overstayed their visas purely on the basis of their ethnicity

The ‘dawn raids’ (pictured) were a period during the 1970s when officials targeted non-white people believed to have overstayed their visas purely on the basis of their ethnicity

‘We responded to the call to fill the labour workforce that was needed.

‘In the same way they responded to the call for soldiers in 1914, we were coming to aid a country when they needed us and when that friend or country felt that they no longer needed us, they turned on us.

‘Trust was broken.’

Mr Sio cried as he was asked how he would feel telling his father, at age 83, of the forthcoming apology.

‘What this apology is about, first and foremost, is restoring trust, building confidence in the next generation,’ he said.

‘I do not want my children or any of my nieces and nephews, to be shackled by that pain and to be angry about it. I need them to move forward and look to the future, as peoples of Aotearoa.’

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio was brought to tears while talking about his personal experiences of the 1970's dawn raids during a post-Cabinet press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio was brought to tears while talking about his personal experiences of the 1970’s dawn raids during a post-Cabinet press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday

Pictured: Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio looks at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speak during a post-Cabinet press conference on the 1970's dawn raids at Parliament in Wellington

Pictured: Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio looks at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speak during a post-Cabinet press conference on the 1970’s dawn raids at Parliament in Wellington

The apology is timed alongside the 50-year anniversary of the Polynesian Panther Party, a social justice movement founded to fight mistreatment of Pasifika people.

Founding member Will ‘Ilolahia told Newshub the inequality was shocking, and led to intergenerational trauma.

‘It was really hard to be a Polynesian. Some of our members were being picked up on the streets and being asked for passports,’ Mr ‘Ilolahia said.

It’s not yet clear whether the apology will be paired with visa amnesties.

Mr Sio said he ‘had a personal view that I won’t be sharing’ on that matter, while Ms Ardern said she wanted to ‘manage expectations’ around amnesties.

She has ruled out compensation to affected communities.



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