New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern apologizes for immigration attacks on Pacific communities in the 1970s Reuters

© Reuters. File picture: File picture: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to supporters at a Labor Party event in Wellington, New Zealand, October 11, 2020. REUTERS/Praveen Menon

MELBOURNE (Reuters)-On Sunday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern issued a serious national apology to Pacific communities for the ethnic immigration attacks in the 1970s that led to deportations and prosecutions.

The “dawn raids” that often occur in the early morning occurred between 1974 and 1976, when the New Zealand economy was in a downturn and the government severely cracked down on Pacific immigrants who had overstayed work visas.

Speaking to hundreds of people who attended the formal apology, Ardern said that members of the Pacific community continued to “suffer and leave scars” during the attack, during which they were specifically targeted and racially discriminated against.

“Today, on behalf of the New Zealand government, I formally and unreservedly apologize to the Pacific community for the discriminatory implementation of the immigration laws of the 1970s that led to the dawn raid,” Ardern said.

“The government expresses its grief, self-blame, and regret over the occurrence of dawn raids and random police inspections, and that these actions are deemed appropriate.”

As part of the formal apology, Ardern stated that her government will provide 2.1 million New Zealand dollars (1.5 million US dollars) in academic and vocational scholarships for the Pacific community, as well as young people from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and Tuvalu. Provide 1 million US dollars in leadership scholarships.

Sunday’s activities include Ifoga, a traditional Samoan ceremony in which people ask for forgiveness or accept forgiveness. Some ministers and members of parliament put a cushion on Ardern, which is then removed by members of the Pacific community.

In apologizing, Ardern said: “There have been no reports of attacks on non-Pacific houses; no attacks or random interceptions of Europeans.”

($1 = 1.4339 New Zealand dollars)

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