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Mat draped over Ardern as part of Govt's formal apology for dawn raids

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has had a mat draped over her as part of a Samoan Ifoga ceremony, as the Government formally apologises for the dawn raids of the 1970s this afternoon.

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

As part of the ceremony at the Auckland Town Hall today, Ardern had the mat draped over her by several of her ministers and MPs, including Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni and MP Anahila Kanongata'a-Suisuiki.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is covered in a mat as part of a formal Samoan Ifoga ceremony. Source: 1 NEWS

Ardern offers 'unreserved' apology for dawn raids on Govt's behalf

After the mat was taken off her by Pasifika community members, Ardern embraced several of the community before making her way onto the stage for speeches.

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Pacific people were encouraged to come here to fill labour shortages but were subjected to raids on homes. Source: 1 NEWS

Earlier, Ardern and her ministers were welcomed ahead of the Government's formal apology to the Pacific communities left traumatised by the dawn raids carried out the 1970s.

Jacinda Ardern embraces a woman ahead of the Government's formal apology for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s in the Auckland Town Hall. Source: 1 NEWS

The practice of the dawn raids saw immigration officials target the homes of people from the Pacific Islands in the early hours of the morning, beginning in the 1970s, in a crackdown on alleged "overstaying" on their visas.

Jacinda Ardern takes part in the adapted Samoan Ifoga ceremony. Source: 1 NEWS

The policy followed a boom in jobs after World War II, where many people from the Pacific Islands were encouraged by the Government to come to New Zealand to fill roles in growing industries.

Performers welcoming Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her ministers into the Auckland Town Hall. Source: 1 NEWS

However, as the economy entered an economic recession, an amendment to the Immigration Act in 1968 allowed those overstaying their work permits to be deported and gave police the power to ask people to immediately produce documentation confirming they were legally allowed to be in the country. 

The move unfairly targeted the Pacific community, Māori and other people of colour.