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The Polynesian Panther Party will hold a three-day fonotaga commemoration event this weekend at the University of Auckland’s Fale Pasifika.

Whakaako kia Whakaora - Educate to Liberate
Whakaako kia Whakaora – Educate to Liberate. Image: RNZ/Polynesian Panthers

Dawn Raid apology
The Panthers’ golden jubilee couldn’t be more forthcoming, given an announcement made this week of a formal government apology for the 1970s Dawn Raids.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the time had come for an apology for a Labour Party immigration policy that targeted Pasifika people who had overstayed their visas by mere fact of their ethnicity.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern … “To this day Pacific communities face prejudices and stereotypes … an apology can never reduce what happened.” Image: Dom Thomas/RNZ

“To this day Pacific communities face prejudices and stereotypes… an apology can never reduce what happened, or undo the decades of disadvantage experienced as a result, but it can contribute to healing for Pacific peoples,” she said.

Ardern was joined at the theatrette lecturn by Pacific Peoples Minister ‘Aupito Toeolesulusulu Tofae Su’a William Sio, who wiped away tears while sharing his own personal story of being raided as a teenager.

“I’m quite emotional… I’m trying to control my emotions today,” he said.

His parents had only just bought a home, taken as an achievement for the family, when a year or two later they’d been woken up to a police officer flashing a torch in their eyes.

“To have somebody knocking at the door in the early hours of the morning with a flashlight in your face, disrespecting the owner of the home, with an Alsatian dog frothing at the mouth,” ‘Aupito recounted.

'Aupito William Sio
‘Aupito William Sio … “I don’t think there is any Pacific family who was not impacted on by the events of the Dawn Raids.” Image: Dom Thomas/RNZ

“The memories are etched in my memory of my father being helpless.

“I don’t think there is any Pacific family who was not impacted on by the events of the Dawn Raids, and there is a strong moral imperative to acknowledge those past actions were wrong. Through an apology, they recognise those actions were unacceptable under the universal declaration of human rights, and are absolutely intolerable within today’s human rights protections.

“Come for the ceremony,” ‘Aupito said, welcoming the Panthers to the government apology.

Ardern added “[the Panthers] will probably remind us to ‘educate to liberate’.”

The Prime Minister will make her formal government apology for the Dawn Raids on June 26 at the Auckland Town Hall, 50 years on from the start of the revolution against racial injustices against Pasifika in Aotearoa.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz

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