New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a “formal and unreserved apology” on Aug. 1 for the immigration crackdown that targeted Pacific Islanders in the 1970s.
“The Government expresses its sorrow, remorse, and regret that the Dawn Raids and random police checks occurred and that these actions were ever considered appropriate,” Ardern said at a gathering of affected families, Pacific Island dignitaries, and government officials in Auckland.
Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio, who lived through the raids, was also part of the crowd.
The raids targeted people who overstayed their visas, resulting in deportations to their countries of origin. However, Pacific Islanders were disproportionately affected by the crackdown, which Ardern described as “dehumanizing.”
“I stand before you as a representative of those who did you harm,” Ardern said in Samoan.
Wanting to “pave a new dawn,” Ardern announced that the government will offer NZ$2.1 million (US$1.5 million) scholarships to Pacific students as part of the formal apology.
Ardern also announced that the immigration raids would be included into the history curriculum in schools.
“May this opportunity help future generations gain knowledge and understanding that will help them ensure the mistakes of the past are not ever repeated again,” Ardern said.
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