“Racist” attack: New Zealand apologizes to Pacific Islanders immigration news

Wellington, New Zealand —— It has been 50 years since the “dawn raid” in New Zealand, and the 82-year-old father of the Minister of the People of the Pacific, Opito William Theo, still cannot talk about it.

“An authority who should take care of you and an authority who serves you makes you feel helpless in your own home. How do you talk about this kind of thing?” Theo said.

The dawn raid occurred in the 1970s and involved people from the Pacific Islands who immigrated to New Zealand for work in the years after World War II.

One morning in the winter of 1974, the police brought the dog to the front door of Sio’s father’s house in Otara, Auckland. They require everyone in the house to retrieve their passports to show that they are legally entitled to stay in New Zealand. Dogs were barking, people were screaming, and the police chased Sio’s cousin from the garage. They were taken to prison, took their belongings, and then deported to Samoa.

Many Pacific Islanders moved to New Zealand after the war to promote the country’s depleted labor force. By 1976, according to the national census, they accounted for more than 2% of the national population, reaching 65,700. But when the Labor government decided to crack down on immigration in the 1970s, economic conflicts swept across the country and they were under pressure. Between 1974 and 1976, the homes of Pacific families were attacked many times, usually in the early morning or late at night. Thousands of people were arrested and deported.

After years of community-led lobbying-including a petition signed by 7,366 people and submitted to Parliament in June-New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the government will officially recognize her An apology for the policy that caused “deep harm” in New Zealand’s Pacific community.

The date of the apology is set for August 1, 2021.

Sio stated that it is important that New Zealand recognizes specific racial profiling as part of its history.

The father of Aupito William Sio, the Minister of the People of the Pacific, was one of the Pacific descent who was singled out during immigration raids in the 1970s [Courtesy of William Sio’s office]

“This is the first step in removing the shackles of shame,” he said. “If we don’t learn and understand what happened and think of excuses, the same pattern of behavior will reappear. We need to accept that what happened was wrong and is still wrong.”

A 1986 investigation by race relations mediators on allegations of discrimination in the application of immigration law found that between 1985 and 1986, although Pacific Islanders accounted for one-third of those who stayed after their visas expired, they accounted for all immigrants 86% of it. Prosecute. In contrast, people from the United States and the United Kingdom also accounted for one-third of all overstayers and only 5% of all prosecutions. According to the Pacific People’s Department, between 1974 and 1976, an estimated 5,000-12,000 people did this.

Why now?

Timu told Al Jazeera that after Benji Timu and Josiah Tualamali’i were frustrated that no officials realized the intergenerational trauma caused by the raid, they began to submit a petition to the parliament in June, and this topic was not mentioned in the school.

Timu, 27, has been learning about his identity for the past five years.

As a descendant of Samoans, Cook Islanders, and Niueans, he said he has only now begun to understand his cultural struggle.

“A lot of people are talking about the shame and guilt that I have to endure in order to stay in New Zealand. I consider myself part of the privileged diaspora in the Pacific. I speak my language and English, and I feel responsible for defending my culture,” he Say.

“It’s crazy to think we didn’t understand this in school. I haven’t received anti-racism education. The injury may have been done, and you can see that the injury has been passed on for two generations. This is manifested in the distrust of the police and the government. There are many things that keep our people at the bottom—whether it is from a socioeconomic, educational, or justice perspective. An apology is the first beginning of the process of getting things right.”

Pacific Islanders account for 8.1% of New Zealand’s 5 million population. National statistics dating back to 2013 show that their median annual income is 8,800 New Zealand dollars ($6,145) lower than the median national income, and in the three years from 2012 to 2014, approximately 28% of the Pacific Children live in poor families, and this proportion is 16% of children of European descent.

The petition also called for the establishment of a heritage fund to recognize, recognize and financially support families affected by the attack.

Cindy Kiro (left) and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (right) walk past the Parliament Building together in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, May 24, 2021. Kiro was appointed as the next Governor of New Zealand and was the first Aboriginal Maori woman to be appointed to this position. [File: Nick Perry/AP Photo]

Although “the state apologizes for the mistakes caused by the raids and the state-sanctioned racist remarks designed to discredit and dehumanize Pacific Islanders, it’s very important”-but an apology is not enough, Dylan A, a law lecturer at the University of Auckland Sappho told Al Jazeera.

Asafo was referring to a campaign advertisement broadcast by the National Party on television, which included Pacific Islanders described as barbaric, violent, and cutting corners, who brought crime and civil unrest to New Zealand.

The open racist movement helped the party leader and former prime minister Robert Malden win the 1975 election.

“It is painful to see blatant racism being so widely accepted,” Asafo said. “But seeing Malden win by an overwhelming advantage is effective. Nationally recognized racism has taught a generation that it is okay to look at Pacific Islanders from this perspective, and since then we have not seen any policies to resist These behaviors.”

Need to change

He said that now, racism is secretly supporting New Zealand’s immigration laws.

“The people of the Pacific and people of color do not have clear permanent residency rights. The system is designed for white immigrants from wealthy developed countries, and the government believes they can provide more services to the economy. People of color are seen as consumers of the economy. , Were downgraded to expired temporary visas, and then they were deprived of their rights and rights.”

The Recognized Seasonal Employer Program came into effect in 2007 and aims to allow the agricultural sector to recruit personnel from overseas for seasonal work. Asafo said, in practice, this means that Pacific Islanders are invited to apply for the program because their wages are low, and despite providing valuable roles for New Zealand, they are denied the right to live permanently in the country and forced to return to themselves Motherland.

“Pacific Islanders are forced to work in unstable conditions; they are seen as tools of labor and are easy to dispose of. The system is undermining the dignity of these people,” he said.

“I think there is a kind of racist contradiction. We are seen as part of the Pacific Ocean and as a neighboring country of New Zealand in the international environment. But in the context of immigration, Pacificers are second-class citizens and their labor is exploited to aggravate Labor shortage.

More than 7,000 people signed the petition submitted to Parliament in June [Sasha Borissenko/Al Jazeera]

“The government has expressed concern, but whether it is regret or regret depends on whether appropriate actions are taken to address the systemic dehumanization of a group of people and the impact that still exists today.”

The Minister of Immigration, Kris Faafoi, stated that Ardern has stated that an amnesty should not be expected, and pointed out that in 2000 and 2001 there were opportunities for pardons.

Ardern also pointed out that there are many ethnic groups and communities who want a way to live. Faafoi said that the government does not want to apologize for discriminatory behavior while formulating a policy that discriminates itself by restricting the qualifications of certain groups.

“The government is still committed to recognizing seasonal employer programs, but we have identified areas for improvement.”

The Ministry of Commerce, Innovation and Employment is currently reviewing the plan, which includes setting fair, transparent and promoting better performance caps and worker allocation mechanisms; ensuring workers’ participation and effective management of potential consequences (such as the displacement of workers in New Zealand) To get a fair share of the benefits.

The review includes consideration of ways to enhance compliance and minimize the risk of exploitation. Faafoi said it will also review employers’ obligations in caring for workers, including providing suitable accommodation.

Minister Sio said: “We continue to review the plan and are collecting intelligence from the local community. I am aware of the criticism. There are two aspects [that being the exploitation of foreign workers] But talking to any employer, you will hear different stories. We also need to pay attention and provide opportunities for our local workforce. “

Sio said that for the time being, it is important to acknowledge the damage and trauma caused by the dawn attack on a very important part of the New Zealand community. “People come here to be good citizens, but are treated unfairly by those who should protect them.

“I want people to have the confidence to tell their stories because it becomes a healing process for those who have been traumatized. For the rest of New Zealand, let people know what’s going on-especially what politicians, police and immigration officials are talking about behind closed doors. ——It is also very important so that it will not happen again.”

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