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Dawn Raids Play written by Oscar Kightley (Ex Rutherford Student)

On Thursday 25th August, a group of young Pasifika Rutherfordians were taken out to the ASB Waterfront Theatre to watch Oscar Kightley’s ‘Dawn Raids’. The ‘Dawn Raids’ is a retelling of what happened to Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand during the 1970s. Many Pacific Islanders came to New Zealand with the aspiration to work and dreams of a better life for themselves and their children. Due to New Zealand’s high demand for labour during the 1960s, the Labour government encouraged the migration alongside the employers for as long as the excess labour demand continued. However during the 1970s, New Zealand’s economy began to suffer, meaning unemployment began to rise. Pacific Islanders became convenient scapegoats for New Zealand’s economic and unemployment issues. Pacific Islanders were blamed for overloading the welfare system. This was a painful time for Pacific people who faced police brutality and racial discrimination. Police and immigration officials targeted Pasifika people in a bid to remove alleged overstayers. They went to homes and churches, and targeted factories and hotels. They used dogs. Pacific people were victims of inhumane cruel attacks. This play retold a very real and confrontational part of New Zealand’s past. It’s important to remember all of our country’s history, especially the ugly and painful parts so that we can learn to never make the same mistakes again. For our young Pasifika people, it’s important to remember the stories of those that came before us, the struggles they went through and the sacrifices our people made so that our generation can stand here today. As young Pasifika people now it’s our job and responsibility to take the tools and gifts we’ve been given to uplift and enrich our own Pacific communities. During the Q&A afterwards, Gabi Solomona the actress who plays Fualosa said “For pākehā people, you can navigate spaces and sit at tables that pacific people can’t. You can help by making space for us and lifting us up into those places to sit with you”. The Dawn Raids aren’t a part of New Zealand history that can necessarily be fixed or ever forgotten but it’s our job to help one another heal.

Fa’afetai lava to Mr Talamaivao, Mr Tagaloa and Ms Tolova’a for organising the trip and time to take us.

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