- New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wants to apologize for the police raids on the Pacific community.
- The raids took place in the 1970s and were carried out by police and immigration officials.
- Pacific Peoples Minister William Sio personally experienced the raids.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that she will offer a formal apology to the Pacific New Zealand community for the “degrading” police raids that targeted them in the 1970s.
Ardern said the notorious “dawn raids” were carried out by police and immigration officials seeking to identify and deport those who were left with visas.
In addition, he said that the Pacific Islanders were racially identified, and officials subjected them to random arrests and searches without justification.
“They had been routinely harsh with degrading verbal and physical treatment,” Ardern told reporters.
“The raids and what they represented created deep wounds, although we cannot change our history, we can recognize it and try to correct a mistake.”
Ardern said the apology will take place on June 26 at Auckland City Hall.
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New Zealand encouraged migration from Pacific islands such as Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji after World War II to fill the labor shortage as the economy expanded.
But they faced a backlash when there was a recession in the 1970s, with claims that they were taking jobs from New Zealanders.
Pacific Peoples Minister William Sio, who has a background in Samoa, said the raids were “racist and discriminatory.”
Sio fought back tears as she described her own family’s experiences.
“The memories of my defenseless father are recorded … someone knocking on your door in the early hours of the morning with a flashlight to his face, disrespecting the owner of our house,” he said.
“An Alsatian dog foaming at the mouth, wanting to enter without any respect for the people who live there. It was quite traumatizing.”
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