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Guest Blog: Dawn Raids Apology

Le Va board member Josiah Tualamali’i pens his thoughts about the recent apology made by the government for the Dawn Raids:

There are not many days in one’s lifetime like Sunday 1st August – where the Government, reflecting on past actions, apologised for the ‘Dawn Raids’, also known as the ‘Dog Raids’. A group from my generation started a letter campaign (#TautokoThePanthers) in support of the Polynesian Panthers’ call for an apology. Later, Benji Timu and I created a petition to build more support and call for all parties in Parliament to support the apology and have a special discussion on the topic. At the apology, our harmonies, our hugs, our laughter, our tears, our applause, our silence, and the openness of our Matua co-created a space of tapu to reflect on enduring pain, creating the potential for healing for many and raising our expectations of decision-makers and their work. Amongst a symphony of special moments, two, in particular, stood out for me;

The first was hearing Marina Alefosio, spoken word poet, creative and our youth development lead at Le Va share with us. With Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, HRH Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili of Tonga, the Polynesian Panthers Claw and other matua sitting on her left, our Prime Minister, Minister Hon Aupito and their Government colleagues on her right, Marina weaved the challenging and uplifting feelings in the room together. Just a few of the lines that encouraged us included;

“…Valleys no longer drying us up
Of our Moana
Te-Moana-Nui-A-Kiwa
We are all worthy of that first light…”

Marina’s message about the mana we have for just being us, is precious. And it reminds me of one of the things I found most devastating to hear in the last few months, a genuine lingering question for some elders and their families who directly experienced the raids around whether they deserved this. Regardless of whether people were documented, or not, hearing the Government say this should not have happened, followed by Marina’s words hopefully enables for all peoples in Aotearoa time to reflect on valuing every person’s mana, because no one would want this to happen to their family, and so the principle should be that we would not want any family to be subjected to such experiences of denigration. The aftermath of the apology is a new moment for people in New Zealand to reflect on how we best address the past and achieve the best outcomes for health, education and in all areas for everyone – and to me this is not a rhetorical question, pressing deeper into equity is how we will get closer to achieve this.

Secondly, and foundationally, I really want to highlight how Tangata Whenua have shown so much alofa in tautoko of this apology through the letter campaign, the petition and in the ceremony itself despite all the challenges and pain they have experienced from the Crown and Parliament in the past, and today. Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei as mana whenua wrapped their korowai of care and support around our communities and our leaders hosting a dawn acknowledgement to reset the Auckland Town Hall from the concert of the night before, opening and closing the apology ceremony, and giving karakia before the team who worked to coordinate the event left the building. It’s my hope that we as Pacific peoples strengthen our support for Te Tiriti o Waitangi being honoured and committing to deepening the whanaungatanga relationship we have with tangata whenua. Tangata whenua have shown us throughout these months leading into, and at the time of the apology that it is about aroha ki te tangata, love for the people (also in raising and deepening this support we are even more directly supporting the 50% of Pacific children under 14 who are also tangata whenua). One current way to support this is using the influence and relationships we have, where we are, to support the actions the new Māori Health Authority will take. This is a great way for us to be part of enabling the potential of Aotearoa to truly well, by being well for tangata whenua, and as we have seen tangata whenua in their aroha enable better wellbeing for us all.

The process for how this apology has come about, the awhi of so many in support, and where we are at now I hope encourages us to further deepen our whanaungatanga with tangata whenua, champion our orators who weave hearts like Marina does, and share our ways of being here in Aotearoa. And no less small, write letters, emails and talk to our decision makers about what matters to us because it helps.

 

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