Pasifika activists are calling on the Government to provide reparation to support its formal apology for the devastation of the Dawn Raids in the 1970s, such as introducing pathways to residency for Pasifika overstayers.
Community leaders say further action needs to be taken by the Government to accompany the apology, which comes almost 50 years after the raids terrorised Pacific communities.
Started by the Labour Party and continued when Sir Robert Muldoon's National came to power later that decade, the raids saw Polynesians racially targeted by police for allegedly overstaying their visas - despite most overstayers being European/Pakeha.
People were accosted by authorities in their homes and workplaces, while others were stopped on the streets and harassed for documents. Police used a policy of "random checks" to stop Pacific people and an "idle and disorderly" charge to detain them, even when no crime was committed.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Government will formally apologise for the devastation of the Dawn Raids at a commemoration event in the Auckland Town Hall on June 26.
"An apology can never reverse what happened or undo the damage caused but we can acknowledge it and we can seek to right a wrong," Ardern said. "The Dawn Raids were a defining moment in New Zealand's history and the emotional harm caused by them remains etched in the living memory of those who were directly impacted. Communities at the time felt targeted and terrorised and there is clear evidence the raids were discriminatory and have had a lasting negative impact."
Speaking to The AM Show on Tuesday morning, Polynesian Panthers co-founder Will 'Ilolahia said the Government needs to offer "something more" to New Zealand's Pacific population - if they truly want to make amends for the intergenerational trauma inflicted by the raids.
"It's taken close to 50 years… there should be something more," he said. "The cases that came across our doorsteps were unbelievable. Women getting dragged down to the cop station with just their lavalava. We've got people still traumatised about this."
'Ilolahia said that activists are calling on the Government to introduce pathways to residency for those who are presently overstayers. He estimates that currently, around 10,000 Pacific people are overstaying their visas to retain their lives in New Zealand.
"It's unbelievable - the Dawn Raids were started by the Labour Party. It's too long. What we're asking for are pathways to residency for people who are overstayers… we've got cases of people being here for 11-12 years - cases of their children being head boys at schools."
Pasifika youth leader and mental health advocate, Josiah Tualamali'i, agreed, acknowledging the apology is "a start", but concrete reparation should be made to corroborate it.
Earlier this year, Tualamali'i's campaign for a formal apology gained traction on social media after the young leader pledged to write to Ardern weekly, encouraging others to do the same.
"'I'm super hopeful that on the 26th we get deeper - and more," he told The AM Show on Tuesday. "Help us have some legs with it."
Tualamali'i believes the overdue apology is a reflection of how Pacific voices have long been undervalued in New Zealand.
"I think it's partly because, in the past, our Pacific voices - the voices of the Polynesian Panthers and others - haven't been as valued as other voices in the advocacy space," he said.
"It does interest me that none of them are knights or dames - and we have other rebels like Sir Tim Shadbolt and the Topp Twins who have done huge and important work and they've been recognised. It's not been on the same footing and I hope that changes."
'Ilolahia admitted he is a "bit disappointed" that Ardern did not further her announcement on Monday with additional reparation.
"I'm a bit disappointed that she didn't say anything afterwards. We've got a Minister for Pacific Peoples crying on TV," he said, referencing Minister Aupito William Sio's emotional response to Monday's announcement as he reflected on the trauma of the raids - which directly impacted his own father.
"His tears represent the hurt that a lot of people have gone through. For me, I'm 70 now. I look back at all the times I've stood in a protest with batons and all that stuff - an apology doesn't feel worth it to me."
When asked if he felt their voices would be heard this time, 'Ilolahia hinted that if the Government didn't take action - activists would.
"Ministers are indicating otherwise, but we've done it before. Look out on the 26th - there might be something happening. A bit of action. These are Kiwis, really - they just haven't got the stamp on the passport.
"This is a good chance to show the rest of the world that this is how we treat people."