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Pacific communities are staging a silent march on Saturday to recognise ongoing pain from the Dawn Raids.

Pacific communities are staging a silent march on Saturday to recognise ongoing pain from the Dawn Raids.



Dawn Raids peace march to go ahead, despite amnesty announcement

Pacific communities are rallying in a silent march to recognise the ongoing pain caused by the Dawn Raids.

Ruci Farrell
Ruci Farrell
29 September 2023, 12:27am
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Forgiveness, justice, anti-racism and peace.

These are the values Polynesian Panthers and local civil society organisations are marching under as they stage a peaceful march to remember families who did not survive the Dawn Raids of the 1970s.

At the weekend, the Labour party announced a one-off regularisation programme or amnesty for migrant families​ who have been in New Zealand for more than ten years, but Tongan community leader Pakilau Manase Lua was keen to note that this march was organised before the amnesty was announced.

“We’re all rallying to have our voices heard in a peaceful protest called the Savali ole Filemu to commemorate those overstayers during the Dawn Raids who are no longer here, and also to remind the Government that we’re not pawns to be used at their convenience to get votes.”

Pakilau says although the amnesty is for all nationalities, a large portion are working and have deep roots in their community.

“The last figures we got, [there's] 14,000-16,000 overstayers. Roughly, about 5,000 or more are Pasifika. The Tongans make up the majority of the overstayers who are Pacific, so that’s the reason why the Tongans took the lead from the lessons of the Dawn Raids, don’t want to have that happen again.”


It gets personal for Pacific communities

March organiser Mesepa Edwards only recently found out her mother had been personally impacted by the racist immigration practices.

“None of our siblings, the whole family, we never knew that this was what my Mum really went through," she says.

“She’s 84 now, so if you can imagine from the 70s until now, she’s held that suppressed for so long. But how many more of our other families have done the same thing.”

​Edwards says the march is to honour her mother’s wishes, to march for healing and to speak on behalf of many who passed and never got justice.

“We’re talking decades of trauma, generational trauma. This is not a Samoan thing, this is a Pasifika thing, this is what happened to all of us.

“It really represents all those things that went down for my mother’s generation, and how that flowed onto our generation, mokopuna and great mokopuna.”

The march on Saturday in Auckland will start from Franklin Rd, Western Park at 10am and end at Western Park in Ponsonby at 1pm.

Watch the full interview with Mesepa Edwards below or head to PMN Tonga to like, share and comment on the video.