Dawn Raids: Tuia Mātauranga Curiosity Card

A DigitalNZ Story by National Library Services to Schools

The curiosity card depicts a scene from the 2015 television programme Westside, dramatising the experience of a Pacific Island family during a dawn raid in 1976. The image below shows Anna Likio at the family's Waitangirua home surrounded by the luggage they had to leave behind.


Hutia te rito o te harakeke Kei whea to kōmako e kō?

If the heart of the harakeke was removed, where would the bellbird sing?


In 1974 the Kirk government clamped down on people overstaying the time allowed by their visas. Pacific Islanders attracted the most attention, with Samoans and Tongans particularly affected, and ‘dawn raids’ by police on the homes of suspected overstayers were introduced in 1974. Immigration policy continued to be tightened under the National government that won power in 1975. Dawn raids ended in the late 1970s after considerable public outcry, including protests by the Polynesian Panthers, a group of New Zealand-born Pacific Islanders influenced by the American Black Panthers movement.

Source: 'Pacific Islands and New Zealand - Immigration and aid', URL: http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/pacific-islands-and-new-zealand/page-2, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), (published 20-June-2012)

T-shirt (Cook Is original over stayers since 1960)

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Polynesian Panther Party

University of Otago

Mua Strickson-Pua and his granddaughter

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage


  • In 1945, Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand numbered only 2200.
  • Many Pacific peoples came to Aotearoa in the 1950s and 60s looking for work.
  • Intolerance towards migrants from the Pacific increased during the 1970s, particularly after a decline in the economy in Aotearoa and the oil crisis of 1973.
  • The Dawn Raids were a series of raids carried out against immigrants at random by the New Zealand police during the mid-1970s.
  • Authorities carried out these raids on Pacific migrants to identify overstayers who were then deported back to their home country.
  • During the 1975 general election campaign, a National Party cartoon depicted Pacific migrants as a threat to Aotearoa.


Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira


  • Who (and what) decides who can live in a country?
  • What influences how immigrants are treated in Aotearoa New Zealand?
  • How does ‘the economy’ affect society?

This story was curated and compiled by Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa|National Library of New Zealand, Services to Schools staff.

Dawn raids

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Polynesian Panthers and Old House

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira


The 1970s — 1976 and the Dawn raids intensify.

Dawn Raids — a Many Answers entry that provides information about the Dawn raids in the 1970s in New Zealand.

Dawn raids — a documentary that chronicles the controversial mid-70s raids on the homes and workplaces of alleged overstayers from the Pacific. 

Ethnic inequalities — a pamphlet prepared by ACORD (the Auckland Committee on Racism and Discrimination) about the story of a dawn raid.

Polynesian Panthers — four part documentary about the Polynesian Panthers.

National Party advertisement — this advertisement reflected an increasing hostility to immigrants from the Pacific as unemployment rose in Aotearoa New Zealand following the 1973 oil crisis.

Topic Explorer — discover extensive resources on the Dawn raids and their impact on Aotearoa New Zealand.

When Pacific Islanders were raided in their beds — these distressing and divisive raids ended in the late 1970s.

"Immigration - Important Notice"

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa


  • Why do people seek homes in new places?
  • How and why are people treated differently?
  • He aha ngā panonitanga ki te manaaki i iwi manene i Aotearoa?
  • How can we care for new people in our community?
  • What is your question?

Prosecution is Persecution

Auckland Libraries

The Dawn Raids

Radio New Zealand

South Pacific peoples: Island groups and recent migration

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

 This story was curated and compiled by Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa | National Library of New Zealand, Services to Schools staff, 2019.