New Zealand Acting Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni says she was “unaware” dawn raids would continue after the 2021 Government apology.
“I thought they’d already ended,” she told Breakfast Tuesday.
“We were unaware of the practise that was ongoing by Immigration New Zealand and so deeply disappointed when we found out that these were being undertaken.”
An independent review, triggered after an April dawn raid on a Pasifika overstayer, has recommended a law change to limit or ban dawn raids.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) — of which Immigration New Zealand (INZ) is part — acknowledged Monday its “guidance” had not reflected the apology and it was “prioritising putting this right”.
MBIE chief executive Carolyn Tremain said she’s committed to “continuing a pause” on “out-of-hours visits” to residential addresses by compliance officers for deportation purposes, following the release of the review.
Asked where a miscommunication had occurred, Sepuloni told Breakfast INZ “clearly” didn’t take into consideration the apology.
“Nor [did they] adopt the intention and the spirit of it with respect to their operational practise.
“They have said previously that there are a few of these out of hours’ operations that occur but in our mind, they haven’t proven that they were justified and so we have certainly asked for more information, forced them to put a pause on this practise and now we’ll be looking at changes moving forward.”
She said the changes will hopefully provide reassurance to the communities affected that this “is not part in parcel” of the operation practise of INZ.
Asked if there was any room for dawn raids or any kind of raid on an overstayer’s residence, Sepuloni said: “Immigration New Zealand have outlined when they believe it is necessary.
“We need to see further proof and exploration of those particular rationales. One is when there is public safety interest in it occurring and some of us are questioning whether or not at that point there should be a warrant, so there’s still some detail to be fleshed out here.
“In the very least, if there was ever an occasion where this was justified, we would want to know, and have the transparency of knowing, of what that might look like. That’s not just for ministers of the Crown to determine. It would be something Immigration New Zealand would need to consult with broadly across the communities that have been impacted,” she said.
“So they certainly have some work to do to prove that there are instances where this needs to happen. If they are able to prove that, then provide the transparency for all communities but also work with communities with respect to what that looks like. And if they can’t prove that there is a situation where this could be justified then it is a complete stoppage to the act.
“But for now it is a complete stop because we’re still waiting on more information and there’s still more work to be done.”
Pushed on whether she personally believes there is still room for dawn raids to occur in some circumstances, Sepuloni said: “I haven’t been convinced yet and so support the idea some work needs to be undertaken here.”
Sepuloni said the Government would not allow dawn raids to “just be a tool” as it would re-traumatise those who had been impacted in the past.
Asked if conversations would be had with INZ about why this message was not made clear or why it didn’t get it, Sepuloni said: “That is certainly a matter for the Immigration Minister. I know that he takes this very seriously. He has been consulting as well and has been making sure he speaks with us as Pacific MPs, as Pacific colleagues about what is going on here.
“He’s laid out what the course of action is moving forward.”
Monday Tremain said: “I do want to again acknowledge the impact the Dawn Raids of the 1970s had on the Pacific community and that the trauma from those remains today,” she said.
“We know we have more to do as we learn from the past to shape the future,” he said.