Polynesian Panther Party of Aotearoa - 50 years on

From Voices, 9:00 am on 21 June 2021
The Polynesian Panthers at a protest rally in the 1970s.

The Polynesian Panthers at a protest rally in the 1970s. Photo: John Miller

 

The Polynesian Panther Party was founded on 16 June 1971 in Auckland by  Will 'Ilolahia, Fred Schmidt, Nooroa Teavae, Paul Dapp, Eddie Williams and Vaughan Sanft.

Unity Pacific's Tigilau "Tigi" Ness

Unity Pacific's Tigilau "Tigi" Ness Photo: Dru Burger

They were later joined by Tigilau Ness, Lupematasila Misatauveve Melani Anae and Alec Toleafoa.

The group was inspired by the civil rights movement in the US and the Black Panthers there who formed during a period of police brutality against African Americans.

The group's primary aim was peaceful protest and aid for Pasifika families who faced racial stigma and policies that deemed them "illegal immigrants".

At a time where the notorious 'dawn raids' were conducted on immigrant Pasifika families - the Panthers banded together in support of the families across Auckland. 

Polynesian Panthers at the #BLM protest in Auckland.

Polynesian Panthers at the #BLM protest in Auckland. Photo: Polynesian Panthers

As part of the golden jubilee commemoration, the Panthers recently concluded a tour of schools and Pasifika communities sharing the story of the group with the next generation.

Tigilau Ness's Niuen parents came to Auckland in the '50s and he was raised in Auckland, in Newton. In this podcast, he speaks to Voices about his involvement in the movement.