New Zealand's Ardern apologises to Pacific community for 1970s 'dawn' immigration raids

WION Web Team
Melbourne, AustraliaEdited By: Moohita Kaur GargUpdated: Aug 01, 2021, 04:58 PM IST


Story highlights

During the economic crisis in New Zealand between 1974 and 1976, many raids were conducted, usually first thing in the morning, in what came to be known as 'Dawn raids'

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a sombre state apology to the Pacific community for deportations and prosecutions caused by racially targeted raids in the 1970s.

New Zealand saw many raids between 1974 and 1976. These raids were usually conducted first thing in the morning, hence the name "Dawn raids." The raids were a part of a government clampdown on workers, from the Pacific, who overstayed their visas.

A formal apology was delivered by Ardern, who expressed her regret about the raids in which Pacific communities were racially targeted and suffered. Speaking to the hundreds of people gathered there, Ardern said that to this day Pacific people continue to experience "the scars" of those raids. 

"Today, I stand on behalf of the New Zealand government to offer a formal and unreserved apology to Pacific communities for the discriminatory implementation of the immigration laws of the 1970s that led to the events of the Dawn Raids," she said.

In addition to a formal apology, Ardern's government will provide academic and vocational scholarships worth NZ$2.1 million ($1.5 million) to Pacific communities, as well as leadership scholarships worth $1 million to youths from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Tuvalu.

Members of parliament and ministers draped a mat over Ardern during the Ifoga ceremony on Sunday, a traditional Samoan ceremony where people ask for forgiveness or receive forgiveness. Members of the Pacific community then removed the mat from Ardern.

Arden stressed that the government expresses its regret, remorse, and sorrow for the Dawn Raids and random police checks that occurred, adding that "there were no reported raids on any homes of people who were not Pacific; no raids or random stops were exacted towards European people."

(With inputs from agencies)