WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Aupito William Sio recalled the terrifying day during his childhood when police officers holding German shepherd dogs turned up at his family home before dawn and shined flashlights into their faces while his father stood there helpless.
Now the minister for Pacific peoples, Sio and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday the government would formally apologize for an infamous part of the nation’s history known as the Dawn Raids.
It’s when Pacific Island people were targeted for deportation in the mid-1970s during aggressive home raids by authorities to find, convict and deport overstayers. The raids often took place very early in the morning or late at night.
Sio became emotional as he and Ardern discussed the apology at a news conference.
“We felt as a community that we were invited to come to New Zealand. We responded to the call to fill the labor workforce that was needed, in the same way we responded to the call for soldiers in 1914,” Sio said.
But he said the government then turned on the Pasifika community when it felt those workers were no longer needed.
Ardern said that at the time, people who didn’t look like white New Zealanders were told they should carry identification to prove they weren’t overstayers, and were often randomly stopped in the street, or even at schools or churches. She said Pacific people were often dragged before the courts in their pajamas and without proper representation.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald