Email sent by Invercargill leads to national Dawn Raids apology

A survey of an Invercargill List MP led to a nationwide apology for the Dawns raids in the 1970s.

Author Pauline Smith and Polynesian Panthers musician Tigilau Ness, Associate Professor Dr Melani Anae and Reverend Alec Toleafoa were talking in 2020 about what could be done to receive a formal apology.

Honorary Polynesian Panther Pauline Smith, left, reached out to Invercargill-based List MP Liz Craig on behalf of the Panthers to ask what needs to be done to receive a formal apology from the government for the dawn of the years raids 1970.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Honorary Polynesian Panther Pauline Smith, left, reached out to Invercargill-based List MP Liz Craig on behalf of the Panthers to ask what needs to be done to receive a formal apology from the government for the dawn of the years raids 1970.

“I spoke to Dr Liz Craig [Invercargill-based Labour list MP] and asked her what the process was, and she said send her an email, so I did, and she started pushing it up the chain.

“We sent the first email from here to Invercargill,” she said.

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In the 1970s, the Kirk Labor government racially targeted Pasifikas suspected of having exceeded their visa terms, and the Muldoon National Administration followed suit. This time in New Zealand’s history became known as the Dawn Raids.

Sent to Labor List MP Liz Craig, in Invercargill, Monday, February 24, 2020, 11:57 a.m. email stew

Sent to Labor List MP Liz Craig, in Invercargill, Monday, February 24, 2020, 11:57 a.m. email stew

Smith said people were searched while attending church services, in bed at home and in workplaces.

“… imagine the humiliation, someone coming into your workplace and doing this to you,” Smith said.

Smith noted that Maori were also being targeted.

Pauline Smith became Honorary Panther when she began working with three of the original members, from left, Reverend Alec Toleafoa, Prof. Melani Anae, musician Tigilau Ness, to educate schools about raiding the dawn and Polynesian panthers.  They call each other all four

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Pauline Smith became Honorary Panther when she began working with three of the original members, from left, Reverend Alec Toleafoa, Prof. Melani Anae, musician Tigilau Ness, to educate schools about raiding the dawn and Polynesian panthers. The four of them are called “La Griffe”, like a panther’s claw.

Smith will attend the national apology on Sunday at Auckland Town Hall and feels privileged to be invited to this “very important historic event which touches on an event 50 years old”.

While Smith was not on the advisory board for the apology, his colleague Reverend Panthers Alec Toleafoa and Professor Dr Melani Anae were and said the government had given a lot of thought to who should be included as to what should be. made for excuses. .

“So we met with the Pacific Peoples Ministry, told them what we wanted, and then we formulated a letter of the sort of thing that we hoped would come with the apologies,” she said. declared.

The main demand was for history to be put on the schools curriculum because the Panthers’ main motto had always been “educate to liberate,” Smith said.

They also called on the government to consider scholarships for the people of the Pacific.

Some original documents collected in the 1970s relating to the Dawn raids, including typed and signed letters from Prime Minister Robert Muldoon saying

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Some original documents collected in the 1970s relating to the Dawn raids, including typed and signed letters from Prime Minister Robert Muldoon saying “The extended stay controversy has been exaggerated”.

Although the Dawns raids are known as something that took place in the 1970s, it was still a real threat and fear today, Smith said.

“I’ve heard a lot about Covid-19, you know people who have come, you know the workers who have come and ended up getting stuck here, who wouldn’t go for Covid-19 shots or get stuck. would not protest if they had Covid -19 because of fear of being deported.

“There is always concern that this will happen again,” she said.

Polynesian Panther Party member Tigilau Ness said the Panthers hope the Dawn Raid story will be incorporated into Aotearoa New Zealand's school curriculum.

David White / Tips

Polynesian Panther Party member Tigilau Ness said the Panthers hope the Dawn Raid story will be incorporated into Aotearoa New Zealand’s school curriculum.

Polynesian panther and musician Tigilau Ness said that despite the long process, they never gave up hope.

“We’re not too concerned with reparation or amnesty, what we want is the story of the dawn raids, all that it entails, its story, how it started… the people involved in what really happened to Pacific Islanders and Maori, we want this to be taught in schools as part of history.

“We want this to be integrated into the school curriculum,” he said.

The Auckland Town Hall chosen as the location of the apology event is important.

This is where the Pasifika community first met to discuss the dawn raids, Ness said.

“This is where the discussions took place to expose what was going on, to highlight it, and you know to make demands, to protest to stop what was going on,” he said.

PIACT Vice President Meke Lomé said the apology was a good thing.

Kavinda Herath / Tips

PIACT Vice President Meke Lomé said the apology was a good thing. “…. I think that puts to bed … that the harm that has been done.”

Pacific Islanders Advisory and Cultural Trust Vice President Meke Lome is another southerner who will be attending the apology event.

“Well… that’s a start. An apology is more or less an acknowledgment of the wrong done, so it’s a very good start, ”he said.

Although the raids did not spread to the Southland that much, Lome said, he recalled the raids that occurred to New Zealand citizens who had every right to be in the country but were being targeted because of their color. of skin.

“They even targeted the … the inhabitants of the Cook Islands, the Niueans and the Tokelauans and these people are New Zealand citizens … but they were always targeting them … because of the color of their skin,” did he declare.

Invercargill Labor MP Dr Liz Craig downplayed her role in building momentum for the national apology.

“Pauline just contacted me originally and I thought the most appropriate way to increase this would be with Pacific Peoples Ministry William Sio.

“So that’s where I suggested she write down what she would like to see in an email and then… I forwarded it,” Craig said.

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