Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio holds back tears remembering trauma of 1970s dawn raids

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio broke down as he remembered the trauma of the 1970s dawn raids - including police raiding his dad - which the Government will formally apologise for. 

The wounds are so painful and still so raw for Pasifika, evident by the Minister for Pacific Peoples trying to control his emotions as he stood alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday to announce plans for an apology. 

"I'm quite emotional," Sio said, his voice shaking. "I'm trying to control my emotions today."

Between 1974 and 1976, police raided the homes of Pasifika families and carried out spot-checks in the streets, hunting for people who'd overstayed their visas. Sio was a teenager at the time when his family was dawn raided. 

"To have somebody knocking at the door in the early hours of the morning with a flashlight in your face, disrespecting the owner of the home, with an Alsatian dog frothing at the mouth," Sio recalled. 

"The memories are etched in my memory of my father being helpless."

The raids were racist - 40 percent of overstayers at the time were British or American, but Pasifika were targeted and the behaviour of the Government at the time sparked further racism toward Pasifika communities.

It is time to say sorry. 

"What they represented created deep wounds," Ardern said on Monday. "While we cannot change our history, we can acknowledge it and we can seek to right a wrong."

Will 'Ilolahia, a founding member of the Polynesian Panthers, has been calling for this apology for too long. 

"I think 48 years it's taken for them to apologise," he told Newshub. "But I don't think just apologizing is enough."

He says further action is required to right the wrong, including a pathway to residency for current overstayers. 

"We're not into money here, we're not into money here, we're into making this place a better place," he said. "Give a pathway to residency for those that are here."

There have previously been amnesty schemes run for overstayers.

Asked if he thinks there needs to be another amnesty scheme, Sio told Newshub: "I have a personal view that I won't be sharing here today."

The Government has been working on an immigration reset but the Prime Minister is dampening expectations. 

"I wouldn't want to set expectations around that," Ardern said, when asked if amnesty will be part of the immigration reset. 

'Ilolahia says given Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi hails from the Pacific - Tokelau - that hurts. 

"Shocking," he said. "I didn't put my body on the line to get a better society to find out one of my own kind are in now a position of power and he's not doing anything."

The formal Government apology for the dawn raids will be held at a commemoration event on June 26 in the Auckland Town Hall.