Green Party co-leader James Shaw 'appalled' after Pasifika overstayer detained in dawn raid in south Auckland

Green Party co-leader James Shaw has hit out at authorities after an overstayer from the Pacific Islands was detained in a dawn raid in south Auckland last month. 

A construction worker was removed from his home by police and immigration officials last month as his four scared children watched on, an Auckland community lawyer said. 

That's despite, in 2021, the Government apologising for racially targeted immigration raids on Pacific Islanders in the 1970s - otherwise known as the "dawn raids". 

Shaw told AM Early on Wednesday he was "appalled" when he heard about it. 

"To tell you the truth, I was actually appalled when I saw that story yesterday, given that it's only been a few months since the Government issued a formal apology for the dawn raids back in the 1970s, and then to kind of see an analogous incident here shortly after that, I actually could barely believe it," Shaw told AM Early host Nicky Styris.

It didn’t go down well with Acting Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni either, who put Immigration New Zealand on notice on Tuesday over it. Sepuloni said the Government didn't want officials "acting in a way where they are re-traumatising our Pacific community".

But the damage has already been done for some communities who are now questioning whether the Government’s daw raid apology was genuine. 

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

Shaw said the approach was horrific but he was pleased to see Sepuloni acknowledge it and make it clear she didn’t condone it. 

“I was really pleased to see deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni yesterday saying that actually, it wasn't acceptable and to kind of issue a please explain to the agencies that are involved in that."

Green Party co-leader James Shaw.
Green Party co-leader James Shaw. Photo credit: AM

When asked what the Greens would do in this situation, Shaw said they would recognise those people for the contributions they've made to New Zealand. 

"We have proposed an amnesty for overstayers and recognise the circumstances these people are in," he said. 

"Recognising the relationships we have with the Pacific Islands and recognise the contribution that people do make to us as a country when they are here."

But National Party leader Christopher Luxon took a different stance saying those visits should be used in some cases.

"I think we've got to be really sensitive to historical challenges we've had around overstayers and dawn raids as such, but I think you still need to reserve the option," Luxon told AM on Wednesday.  

As of March, Immigration New Zealand estimated there were about 14,000 overstayers in Aotearoa. 

Luxon said, "the reality is, you need to be here legally" or "you could be liable for deportation".

"That's completely reasonable for any country to make that decision... it's not like we're overly zealous about it, but often, there are good reasons why you might want that option on the table with respect to someone who is also involved in serious criminal offending or a security risk to New Zealand," Luxon said.  

Watch the full interview with James Shaw in the video above.