National Party leader Judith Collins has teared up during a speech on the "cruel" and "vile" Dawn Raids of the 1970s.
On Tuesday, a special debate was held in Parliament in response to the Government's Dawn Raids apology that was made last Sunday.
The apology acknowledged the lasting negative impacts the raids have had on the Pasifika community. Several gestures also came with the apology, including the development of a historical account of the raids for schools to teach and $2.1 million in education scholarships to Pacific communities in New Zealand.
Speaking on behalf of National, Collins said the party supports the Government's apology and teared up when talking about the impact the raids had on the Pacific community.
"If we're going to get right down into it, it was actually a racist and economic response to the fact that New Zealand, at that stage, had unemployment going through the roof, we were part of an oil shock," she said.
"It was about pushing out the Pacific Island community and sending them back to where they had come from. It was short term, it was cruel, it was vile."
Between 1974 and 1976, a series of immigration policies were carried out that resulted in targeted raids on the homes of Pacific families. The raids to find, convict, and deport overstayers often took place very early in the morning or late at night, hence the name.
Collins, whose husband David Wong-Tung is Samoan, says she "cares so much" about the impacts of the Dawn Raids because she's well aware of the hardship they brought to people, given that 86 percent of those arrested were Pasifika despite them making up just one-third of all overstayers.
"If you consider the fact that people like my husband and his family came to New Zealand in the early 1960s... they didn't have passports, they had a certificate, a form that was handed to them and they had that stamped. That was it," she says.
"And having been brought here, [they were told] here's the jobs, you go for it, you work in the factories, you keep these things going, you do all this, oh it turns to custard, we'll send you back home."
Collins teared up again towards the end of her speech after discussing that New Zealand needs to be aware that a policy similar to the Dawn Raids could happen again if we aren't careful.
"These are the sorts of things that really hurt people and they're the sorts of things that stay forever," she says.
"It's the wrong thing not to apologise, it's the wrong thing not to accept that wrongs were done, and we must own those."