Acting Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni puts Immigration NZ on notice over new dawn raid

Pasifika leaders say the Government risks throwing its landmark Dawn Raid apology out the window if Immigration New Zealand continues to use the tactic against members of the community.

In 2021, the Government apologised for racially targeted immigration raids on Pacific Islanders in the 1970s. But an Auckland community lawyer says his clients were targetted by an early morning raid just a fortnight ago.

The apology for discriminatory immigration raids targeting Pasifika meant so much to so many. But now, some aren't sure it was genuine

"It's really, really shocking. We thought this was over with the sincere apology from the Prime Minister two years ago," said lawyer Soane Foliaki.

Foliaki represents a family in tatters.

At around 5am, their father, a construction worker, was removed from his home by police and immigration officials as his four scared children watched on.

"The children were beside themselves and it became worse when they realised they were coming to take away their dad, take away the breadwinner in the family."

Foliaki sat and watched that apology two years ago. It meant something, he remembers the raids.

"What they're doing with a raid, this is what you would do for a drug bust on a house, or a gang pad or something of similar nature," he said.

Tongan community leader Melino Maka remembers the sound of his aunty screaming as she was taken by police. He also remembers, and now questions, the apology.

"All these things is thrown out the window, you know, and it's an embarrassment for a Government."

The Acting Prime Minister has put Immigration New Zealand on notice.

"We do not want Immigration New Zealand acting in a way where they are re-traumatising our Pacific community," said Carmel Sepuloni. 

The Immigration Minister was forced to act too, telling Immigration out-of-hours dawn raids must now be signed off by the head of Immigration.

"That should be a very, very rare event that has a high level of justification. For example, if it is the only way to ensure a safe operation and that should be signed off in a very high level within the organisation."

It remains to be seen whether the individual will be deported.

Wood is still establishing the facts of the case, something Foliaki says he's already done.

"Is this a bad boy, who's a criminal, that we need to deport quickly? No, this person here's got a New Zealand family and we need to protect the family."

The Government is scrambling to make good on an apology that's now in question.