15 Jul 2021

NZ's formal Dawn Raids apology: rescheduled date announced

4:40 pm on 15 July 2021

New Zealand's formal government apology for the Dawn Raids has been rescheduled to Sunday 1 August, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office has announced.

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern makes her announcement about a Dawn Raids apology.

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern makes her announcement about a Dawn Raids apology. Photo: RNZ

The apology's initial date of 26 June was postponed after a Covid-infected tourist plunged Wellington into alert level two.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio and other government officials wouldn't have been allowed to enter large gatherings.

The rescheduled apology event will run from 3:00pm to 5:00pm, at the Auckland Town Hall.

At the Pasifika post-Budget breakfast this morning, Aupito told RNZ Pacific there will be community meetings after the apology, intended to unite old and new generations of Pasifika for talanoa around the raids' traumatising grip.

"We need to get the apology out of the way, but it was always the plan that we will engage with our communities," he said.

Aupito William Sio.

Aupito William Sio. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

"There are many of our communities that are still traumatised from what occurred."

"There are many in our communities who don't understand what happened in the 1970s - we've got to spend a bit time helping the next generation understand the failings of the past."

Aupito, who wiped away tears when revealing his family was subjected to a dawn raid at last month's apology announcement, committed to supporting Pasifika communities after an apology is made but has still ruled out compensation.

The Polynesian Panthers' Misatauveve Lupematasila Melani Anae said education rather than compensation, would be "the answer in terms of not allowing the terrorism of the Dawn Raids to happen again".

The Polynesian Panther Party, instrumental the eventual halt of the raids, recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.

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Photo: Supplied

Word of an imminent government apology came to hand early this year, as the Polynesian Panthers publicised talks with the Ministry of Pacific Peoples.

Officials faced mounting pressure from young leaders who had shared an open letter to social media, which evolved into a petition to the House of Representatives.

Benji Timu and Josiah Tualamali'i handed the petition last month, the day Wellington moved alert levels.

MPs, supporters and the co-authors of the petition gather for photos.

MPs, supporters and the co-authors of the petition gather for photos. Photo: RNZ / Sean Aickin

In attendance were MPs from across the political spectrum, in consensus that the Dawn Raids' negative impacts on Pasifika livelihoods exist till now.

National, Te Pāti Māori and the Greens have called on the government to make the Dawn Raids a compulsory teaching strand in schools and kura.

A special debate in the Parliament about the Dawn Raids will be held soon.

However, the government has neither confirmed or denied whether already planned education reform will include teaching of the Dawn Raids.

There has only ever been two formal Government apologies before, meeting human injustice criteria: the Chinese poll tax in 2002 and an apology to Samoa for it's period of New Zealand administration which ended in bloodshed.