In the 50s there was an influx of pacific island migrants that came to New Zealand to work in warehouses and production lines. The migrants were allowed to work as it benefited the New Zealand economy but many did not have legal residency. Pacific migrants also saw New Zealand as a better lifestyle for their families and a place with education opportunities for their children. When the postwar boom ended, the country fell into recession thus factories went out of business and needed to get rid of excess employees.
“Churches, employers, had all welcomed these pacific Islanders without residence permits to fill the factories and to fill the coffers of the churches. Suddenly, these people who had been welcomed when it suited New Zealand found they were unwanted when it suited New Zealand” -Aussie Malcom
Pacific islanders were singled out as rapists, thugs and criminals whom should be feared ad excluded by the public. The dawn raids begun as a way of carrying out political action through the acts of police. Police initiated raids at dawn in the houses of pacific migrants suspected to be without residence permits. What begun as house raids spread to random checks in the street. Based on their appearance as being pacific islander, police demanded to see documentation with the intentions to make an arrest at any given opportunity. Although it was claimed not to be raicist, migrants targeted were very rarely non-pacific islander. It is estimated that although 2/3 immigrants at the time were European, it was 2/3 of the prosecuted that were pacific islanders.
A replication of the black Panther movement in America was formed in Ponsonby, Auckland, The Polynesian Panthers. The group saw similarities in the racial and poverty issues being fought by the American group to those being faced by the pacific island community in New Zealand. Documenting the racist acts of police, attempting peaceful and passive protests and educating society were the core motives of the Polynesian Panthers. The group effectively raised awareness about the conditions of police arrests, succeeding to publish information in various Newspapers and media outlets.
A new generation of pacific islanders have an awareness for the history of the dawn raids and are making their own statements on these events. Plays, music acts, and other art forms reflect the interest the new generation has in this part of Aotearoa’s history that has not been given appropriate recognition.
Dawn Raids. Prod. Isola Productions. Nz on Air, 2005. Nz On Screen. NZ on Air. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
“Fob” is the derogatory term for a pacific islander migrant. It’s derived from the phrase “Free on board” which supposedly features in the language of the boat workers in the importing goods industries. The term can still be heard in the suburbs of many Auckland districts, usually when referring to someone’s inability to pronounce the English language and replace words with slang developed in pacific sub-cultures. It’s generally a put down, a criticism used when someone is bothered by the “fob”.
In Siliga David Segota’s t-shirt design for Popohardwear, “fob” has been combined with the laundry brand “Cold Power” to bring the people of Aotearoa “Fob Power- outstanding on the football field, the factory floor, and the footpath brawl”. “Fob Power” is a fictitious commercial product that makes a humorous commentary of the image given to pacific migrants. The brand is transitions humor with a historical accuracy, a middle finger to what the world of New Zealand politics has done for pacific migrants. “Footballs fields”, “Factory floor” and “Footpath brawls” are places the “fob” is portrayed throughout historic recount. Segota sells the pacific population like a product for the New Zealand economy, whom made their own marketing of pacific migrants in the 1975 (National Party Commercial, Figure 2).
Segota’s t-shirt design asserts to the continuous and constant negative image of pacific island migrants in New Zealand, using humor as his method. In the form of a t shirt, consumers seek an identity and Segota has offered them one that speaks an issue ignored in Aoteroa’s history. By referencing the conditions of the dawn raids that implicated many pacific migrants lives, these events are hommage by the artist who created these t-shirts and the customer who chooses to purchase them.
Anne, Melani. “All Power to the People.” Tangata O Le Moana (2012): 221-39. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.