17 Jun 2016

Panthers brought racial awareness to fore: fmr member

7:22 am on 17 June 2016

A former activist says things are not perfect, but Pasifika in New Zealand are treated better than when the Polynesian Panthers were formed 45 years ago.

The group was established in Auckland in June 1971 out of a feeling that Pacific people needed to hit back at mistreatment by society and the government.

The Reverend Wayne Toleafoa said the community was sick of random police checks, racial abuse and the initiatives like the immigration dawn raids.

Rev Wayne Toleafoa

Rev Wayne Toleafoa Photo: facebook

Mr Toleafoa said as well as developing education and legal community initiatives the Panthers pushed to promote Te Reo Maori in an effort to support their Polynesian brothers and sisters.

Mr Toleafoa said they also brought a new awareness of racism in New Zealand

"We've got to stop saying 'we're not a racist society' because there is racism in every society, including Pacific island society," he said.

"We have to acknowledge it and say there's racism, let's deal with it. That is another thing that has been achieved. When I look at my children, they didn't face the same things as I did and my generation. They came through school and people were used to Polynesians by that time."

The Reverend Wayne Toleafoa said Pasifika still featured in worrying education and health statistics which needed to be addressed.