Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Formal apology for Dawn Raids

The Prime Minister was today cloaked with a ‘mat of forgiveness’ by attendees at a service held to offer a formal national apology to Pacific communities impacted by the Dawn Raids in the 1970s.

Jacinda Ardern said the Government understood that the raids were severe with harsh verbal and physical treatment, which gave rise to the term the “Dawn Raids”.

Between 1974 and 1976, a series of rigorous immigration policies were carried out that resulted in targeted raids on the homes of Pacific families. The raids to find, convict, and deport overstayers often took place very early in the morning or late at night.

“Today I offered, on behalf of the Government, a formal and unreserved apology to Pacific communities for the discriminatory implementation of immigration laws that led to the Dawn Raids,” Ms Ardern said.

“The Dawn Raids period cast a shadow over our shared history.  Upholding immigration laws is one thing, but the Dawn Raids went well beyond that.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hugs those attending during a service to make a formal apology to the Pacifika people affected by the dawn raids of the 1970’s.

The Prime Minister said whole communities felt targeted and terrorised. The raids were absolutely discriminatory, she said.

“Expressing our sorrow, regret and remorse for past actions is the right thing to do and provides an opportunity for closure and reconciliation.”

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says looking back it’s clear that the immigration laws were discriminatory.

“Pacific peoples, Māori and other ethnic communities were specifically targeted and racially profiled, which was wrong and should have never happened,” Aupito William Sio said.

“In 1986 the Race Relations Conciliator found that between 1985 and 1986, while Pacific peoples comprised roughly a third overstayers, they represented 86 per cent of all prosecutions for overstaying. Racially targeting Pacific communities created a decades long false impression of the status of Pacific New Zealanders.

“During the same period overstayers from the United States and Great Britain who also comprised roughly a third of overstayers made up only five per cent of prosecutions,” he said.

Jacinda Ardern arrives and is welcomed during a service to make a formal apology to the Pacifika people affected by the dawn raids of the 1970’s at Auckland Town Hall today.

The Government has, as part of the formal apology, committed to honour Pacific ways of seeking reconciliation. It will be providing:

  • $2.1 million in academic and vocational scholarships to be available to Pacific communities;
  • $1 million in Manaaki New Zealand Short Term Scholarship Training Courses for delegates from Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Fiji;
  • It will also be providing resources that are available to schools and kura who choose to teach the history of the Dawn Raids, which would include histories of those directly affected;
  • The Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Ministry for Pacific Peoples will provide support to enable Pacific artists and/or historians to work with communities to develop a comprehensive historical record of account of the Dawn Raids period as an additional goodwill gesture of reconciliation.

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