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.
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“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 live ceremony:
Jacinda Ardern has made the apology for the raids which occurred under both Labour and National governments.
Today was a poignant moment in our Pacific and New Zealand history. The breaking of a new dawn. I have hope that today’s apology will play an important part in the healing process for our people, our aiga and fanau. @nzlabour pic.twitter.com/HKqSP6LpCl
— Carmel Sepuloni (@CarmelSepuloni) August 1, 2021
“…The first step on the long pathway to healing, must include an apology for the racist and unjust treatment of Pacific people in the Dawn Raid era and since.
So this is a very special moment for the Polynesian Panther party, as well as our communities.” – Rev Alec Toleafoa. pic.twitter.com/SZsU4LAHoI
— RNZ Pacific (@RNZPacific) August 1, 2021
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.