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The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has apologized to Pacific Islanders for an immigration policy in the early 1970s. The policy was known as the Dawn Raids. These involved police with dogs waking up Pacific Islanders in the early hours of the morning to deport them. Pacific Islanders are from islands in the South Pacific such as Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji. Over 65,000 Pacific Islanders relocated to New Zealand for work to help fill a shortage of workers. The Dawn Raids focused on those who allegedly overstayed their visas. Police deported them and put their children in government care homes. Most over-stayers at that time were from the UK, South Africa and Australia.
Ms Ardern expressed her government's "sorrow, remorse and regret" over the raids. She took part in a traditional Samoan forgiveness ceremony as part of her apology. She was covered with a large white mat to show forgiveness. Ardern said people still suffered from the memories of the raids, and that "they live on [today] in the disruption of trust and faith in authorities". She told Islanders: "The treatment of your ancestors was wrong." Ardern said Islanders in New Zealand today still "suffer the scars" from the discriminatory policy. A Tongan princess thanked Ardern for apologizing for the "inhumane and unjust" treatment of her people. She said the apology was "a new dawn for my community".
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