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Dawn Raids Apology

By Lina Letele


To be present at the apology of such an historical event that happened within my lifetime, to my

own people, was of huge significance to me. My father was one of many who was impacted by the Dawn Raids.


I can vividly remember at the age of 4 being uplifted from the only home I knew from birth, to be

deported back to Samoa. I returned back to New Zealand at the age of 6, leaving my parents behind,

which was a direct result of the Dawn Raids.


The Dawn Raid apology, although a long event, highlighted a moment in which true leadership was

genuinely reflected. There was an authenticity of cultures and traditions during the day that sent a

strong message that our languages, our songs, our values, and protocols, are inherently what makes

us Pacific. We may use them less and express them differently over time and places, but when done genuinely, they evoke such strong connections and emotions. In order to move forward, we must be able to reflect on the past, so that history does not repeat itself. I think of the Dawn Raid apology and how transforming leaders can be through their words.


The ifoga was powerful. As much as I wanted more of it to be spoken in English, the lauga

and sulu toga, would have lost its lustre in any other language than Samoan. Seeing the

Tongan HRH Princess Mele Fotofili being given an even greater honour than our own Prime Minister

was indescribable and justified, following her dignified and cut-through speech.


As for our PM, she spoke all 9 of our Pacific languages for a good portion of her

introduction, which showed why she is the most empathetic leader of our time.

I sincerely thank you for your leadership and bravery.


To Wellington Help, Faafetai Tele Lava for allowing me the privilege to accept the Ministry

for Pacific Peoples invitation, and to be present at such an important event. This is now a

relationship I would like to strengthen, so that in our work at HELP we are able to support more

whānau who have been directly impacted as a result of some of the historical events that we know

still carry trauma. It inspires me to be educated in this space, so that we are prepared to be the voice of those who are not heard.


Ia Manuia, Ma Soifua,

Thank you to all involved in the advocacy of this apology, to Ministry for Pacific Peoples for

organising the event, and to all our Pacific peoples who have bravely shared their painful

stories to overcome this shameful era. We have a long way to go to change society’s attitudes and

for true reparations, but Aotearoa New Zealand I believe is ahead of the rest of the world.


Malo le tauivi, Malo faafetai

Lina Letele


Left and right photos soured from Getty images



To learn more about the Dawn Raids, visit the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website

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