San Francisco Chronicle

Nation apologizes for past raids on Pacific islanders

- By Nick Perry Nick Perry is an Associated Press writer.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sat motionless Sunday as members of the Pacific Island community pulled a large white mat over her head, completely covering her. Moments later they removed it and embraced her.

It was part of a emotional ceremony at the Auckland Town Hall during which Ardern formally apologized for a racially charged part of the nation’s history known as the Dawn Raids.

The era refers to when Pasifika people were targeted for deportatio­n in the mid1970s during aggressive home raids by authoritie­s to find, convict and deport people who had overstayed their visas. The raids often took place very early in the morning.

By being covered in the mat, Ardern was taking part in a Samoan ritual known as an ifoga, in which the subject seeks forgivenes­s through exposure to public humiliatio­n.

Ardern told a tearful crowd of several hundred that the government was offering a formal apology.

“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,” she said.

 ?? Brett Phibbs/ New Zealand Herald ?? Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is covered during a ceremony in Auckland to formally apologize for a racially charged part of New Zealand’s history.
Brett Phibbs/ New Zealand Herald Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is covered during a ceremony in Auckland to formally apologize for a racially charged part of New Zealand’s history.

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