Government will make formal apology for 'Dawn Raids'

By Te Ao - Māori News

The government has said it will formally apologise for the so-called "Dawn Raids" between 1974 and 1976, with a commemoration event to be held on June 26 at the Auckland Town Hall.

During those years, the then government's immigration enforcement policies led to targeted raids on the homes of Pacific whānau. 

The raids were performed in either early or late hours of the day to find, jail, convict and deport overstayers. The people who were raided by police and immigration officials received what has been called "demeaning" verbal and physical treatment.

“The 'Dawn Raids' were a defining moment in New Zealand’s history and the emotional harm caused by them remains etched in the living memory of those who were directly impacted,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

“Communities at the time felt targeted and terrorised and there is clear evidence the raids were discriminatory and have had a lasting negative impact.

Unshackling the past

“An apology can never reverse what happened or undo the damage caused but we can acknowledge it and we can seek to right a wrong,” Ardern said.

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio says the apology is an acknowledgement of the Crown's role in past actions and treatment of people.

“It will also help Pacific youth stand up with confidence and pride about their identity as Pacific Peoples of Aotearoa, and not be shackled by the wrongs and harms of the past.”

“I am hopeful that the apology will affirm New Zealand as a country where every person, irrespective of their colour, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs, should be treated with dignity and respect."

"It will be an important step in helping people reclaim and restore their mana."

Sio says the apology will be delivered in a culturally appropriate way "and is an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with our Pacific communities in Aotearoa and our Pacific neighbours.”