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Ardern wanted dawn raids apology to focus on Pasifika: Ministers

Many police who took part in the 1970s dawn raids were "conflicted", Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio said today after it was reported Jacinda Ardern's father had been involved in the raids as a junior officer.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with her ministers ahead of the Government's offering of a formal apology for the dawn raids in the 1970s. Source: 1 NEWS / Irra Lee

The Government offered its "formal and unreserved apology" for the dawn raids on Sunday and called its immigration policy at the time "discriminatory" towards Pasifika. 

As part of the apology, Ardern expressed “sorrow, remorse, and regret” to the Pacific community on behalf of the Crown “that wronged you nearly 50 years ago”.

Ministers said Ardern wanted to focus on Pasifika communities affected by the dawn raids on Sunday, and that was why she did not mention then that her father had taken part in them as a police officer.

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The Prime Minister's office confirmed to 1 NEWS today that Ross Ardern took part in the raids as a junior officer in the 1970s. Ross Ardern is now holding the position of the Administrator of Tokelau.

Sio told media today he only found out about Ross Ardern’s involvement in the dawn raids this morning.

“I have heard a lot of stories from police officers, both Pākehā as well as Pacific, who were conflicted in those times. They had a role to play.”

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said Ardern did not mention her father because she did not want to make the dawn raids about her.

The Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni was visibly emotional as the Government apologised for the 1970s dawn raids. Source: 1 NEWS

 

“She [Ardern] wanted to make sure that it was about the Pacific community and the intent of the event was realised, which was acknowledging the hurt it caused to our Pacific community and offering a genuine apology, which she did,” Sepuloni said.  

Newstalk ZB today revealed Ardern’s father had been ordered to take part in carrying out some of the raids. Ardern told Newstalk ZB she was uncomfortable with the fact and said her father believed dawn raids shouldn’t have been part of his duties. 

The Prime Minister wasn’t in Parliament today as she was working from home as she had picked up “the seasonal sniffle” from her daughter. Ardern was tested for Covid-19 this morning. 

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The Prime Minister took part in a modified version of Ifoga. Source: 1 NEWS

Sio and Sepuloni took part in a modified Samoan ifoga ceremony on Sunday, which saw a fine mat draped over Ardern as a symbol of the asking or receiving of forgiveness. 

Ross Ardern became Niue’s police commissioner from 2005 to 2009. He was based in Samoa from 2009 to 2013 as New Zealand Police’s liaison officer for the South Pacific.