Richard Prebble: Government apology for the Dawn Raids is bogus


A government apology used to be a very serious matter. They were never given without an independent inquiry and advice from the Solicitor-General. Apologies are often accompanied by compensation and a change of policy.

None of this is happening for the government apology for the Dawn Raids.

This government that holds inquiries into everything is instead relying on a petition from the Polynesian Panthers and the emotional teenage memories of the Minister of Pacific Peoples, Hon William Sio.

The raids did occur. I was the MP for Auckland Central. They happened in my electorate.

The Police did knock on doors at night looking for overstayers.

The Police knocked on my door at night.

I opened the door. There were no dogs but there were a number of Police.

“We have a report that there are overstayers at this house”

“As you can see you have knocked on the door of the MP for Auckland Central”.

I have never sought an apology. It was the Police who were traumatised.

It has never been illegal for the Police to knock on your door at night.

Mr Sio admits the Police had probable cause to knock on their door as there were overstayers living in their garage.

The Minister says the apology is required because “we were invited to come to New Zealand” and then when unemployment rose “we were turned on”.

The statement is just not true. It is correct employers welcomed Pacific Island labour but all governments have always enforced the immigration laws. The Immigration Act was strengthened at a time of high employment in the 60s to enable overstayers to be deported.

I have handled many Pacific Island immigration cases. No one ever claimed that the government invited them to migrate or to over stay. The Samoa quota was set up at Samoa’s request.

Mr Sio would do better to blame Air New Zealand. It was the opening of regular air travel that enabled migration from the Pacific.

The Police behaviour was outrageous but not for the reasons given by Hon Sio.

The Police swept through my electorate randomly picking up people of colour.

It was not stopped by the Polynesian Panthers. They were a tiny group of young people aping the American Black Panther Party.

My vigorous protests in Parliament did not halt the dragnet.

A large protest meeting at the Town Hall had no effect.

Maori stopped the Police action.

Maori were randomly picked up off the street. In the tough Central Auckland pubs, Maori took very great exception to Pakeha Police questioning their right to be in their country.

The result was often disorder.

The Police realised that falsely detaining Maori as suspect overstayers was a PR disaster and almost certainly illegal. The Police stopped doing dragnets for overstayers.

Dawn raids have never stopped. In the last 12 months Immigration has conducted 223 raids, 19 of which were at dawn.

A government that was concerned about dawn raids would set up a judicial inquiry not just into events that happened 45 years ago but what is happening on Jacinda’s [Ardern] watch.

It would find it is Maori who are owed the apology.

While Ministers of Police have vigorously defended dawn raids the Police have constabulary independence. The Minister of Police has no power to order raids. An inquiry would find no minister ever did.

It was Commissioner Burnside who ordered the setting up of special squads to target overstayers.

The present minister, Hon Kris Faafoi, would come out very badly from an independent enquiry. He has stopped work schemes from Pacific Islands where there has never been any Covid.

The inquiry would find there are migrants who have come to this country with the promise their families could join them. Faafoi has reneged.

I know a family who were on holiday overseas when the border closed. Their 8-year-old daughter’s visa expired. Faafoi will not permit the daughter to rejoin her mother. This is the minister who gave visas to the families of American Cup yachtsmen.

Hundreds of children have been split from parents. It will cause a lifetime of trauma.

An Inquiry would find that while even President Trump proposed a path for citizenship for up to 1.8 million overstayers Labour continues with dawn raids.

Why this rushed bogus apology?

No community has given Labour more support than Pacifica. Pacifica statistics for homelessness, unemployment, health and education are the country’s worst and have gotten worse.

Labour takes its Pacifica support for granted.

Ministers were surprised by the real voter anger in South Auckland at being sentenced to endless traffic jams by the cancelling of vital roading projects to fund a $685 million cycle way across the harbour.

So a gesture to divert attention: This shameless bunch of spinners has rushed out this fake apology.

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