Polynesian Panthers Dr. Melani Anae (pictured above) and Reverend Alec Toleafoa addressed community leaders and members of the Hamilton community this afternoon at the campaign awareness and petition launch-Racial INJustice Matters, calling for an immediate independent inquiry into Institutional Racism and Racial Profiling by the Waikato Police.
Dr. Anae and Rev Toleafoa shared their experience of being part of the Polynesian Panthers. The Panthers fought back against racial discrimination in New Zealand during the period of the Dawn Raids in the early 1970s. Rev. Toleafoa recalls the targeting of illegal overstayers from the Pacific.
Another part of the Dawn Raids was the random stopping of anyone who was brown checking their immigration status . Dr. Anae says these were intense years. “We were the only united Pacific voice in New Zealand during the time where our Brothers, Fathers, Uncles and families were being harassed by the media, by Police and by the government that didn’t want us here in New Zealand anymore.”
She adds, “It was the first state sanctioned active terrorism against Samoans and Tongans. We were racially abused by the people of this land even though we were born here.”
Reverend Alec Toleafoa says after 50 years discussions are underway with the government for a formal apology for the Dawn Raids.
Sonny Fatupaito President Waikato Mongrel Mob Kingdom also addressed the group and shared his brushes with the Police and the challenges and issues around dealing with institutional racism and the relationship with Police during his 41 years with the Mongrel Mob.
Sonny says while they have had a good rapport in terms of liaising with them in the past, he says dealing with local Police in recent years has been difficult to sit down and communicate with them. He notes the change appears to have coincided during the period of the Christchurch Mosque Shootings in 2019, where the Mob provided security for Hamilton Muslim community and the Mosques. He says they continue to fight the good fight.
The campaign aims to bring awareness that wherever people may live, work, play it should be safe for everyone no matter the ethnicity, what people wear, or who their friends are. The petition aims to highlight that Police targeting and racial profiling is making people in the Waikato region feel unsafe.