Navigation for Smart Talk at the Auckland Museum

A series of panel discussions recorded before an audience at the Auckland Museum

Smart Talk: Pacific Sound

The 1970s dawn raids on overstaying Pacific Island workers are a pivotal moment in the development of Pacific consciousness in New Zealand, according to two leading figures considering the development of Pacific music in this country.

Oscar Kightly feels that the involvement of the police enforcing immigration and visa rules had a terrible effect on the way police were viewed by Pacific communities:

“Straightaway that gave us a relationship with the police that was kind of negative. I remember at primary school when the policeman came and everybody was so thrilled and I was so scared. I thought ‘O my God, I’m in trouble. What’s he here to do?’ But he was just here to show us the white helmet and blue helmet and tell us the difference.”

For musician Tigilau Ness, his experience of the police searching his house for an overstaying cousin spurred him into social action.

He considered the actions of the state to be part of a wider international picture of oppression, commenting:

“They did that in South Africa with the apartheid system to black people, they did that in America to black people, they did that all over the world to coloured people. Now they’re doing it to us.”

So, along with other activist groups, the Polynesian Panthers (whose name and motivation was inspired by the USA’s Black Panthers) decided on action directed against those who had instituted the dawn raids. At three o’clock in the morning, they would drive up to a politician’s house. “We’d rock up with loud hailers and spotlights,” he says. Ness recalls going to the home of Bill Birch (then a senior figure in the National Government led by Rob Muldoon) and calling out on a loud hailer “Bill Birch, come out with your passport now!”

Read more information on the Auckland Museum’s exhibition about Samoa, New Zealand and the First World War.

Related stories

  • How the Polynesian Panthers gave rise to Pasifika activism
  • Blackbirder Dread by Unity Pacific
  • Tigilau Ness - Unity Pacific
  • Smart Talk: Pacific Sound live at the Auckland Museum will be broadcast on Radio New Zealand National at 4pm on Sunday16 November, repeated at 9pm on Tuesday 18 November 2014.

    More about the participants

    Annie CrummerAnnie Crummer

    Singer Annie Crummer is of Cook Islands and Tahitian descent. She first made an impact with her show-stopping guest slot with Netherworld Dancing Toys on ‘For Today’ in 1985. From the late 80s she has been part of the very successful all-female act When the Cat’s Away. She released her first solo album ‘Language’ in 1992 and followed it with ‘Seventh Wave’ in 1996 before turning her hand to musicals with roles in Rent and Ben Elton’s Queen-inspired show We Will Rock You. In 2011 she won the Senior Pacific Artist award at Creative NZ’s Arts Pasifika Awards.


    Danny Brotha D Leaosavai iBrotha D

    Founded in 1996 by two school friends Brotha D and Andy Murnane from the notoriously tough streets of the Polynesian community South Auckland, Dawn Raid's name has its roots in a long history of political upheavals and injustice against the Polynesian people in New Zealand during a period of time called the Dawn Raid Era of the early 1970s.


    Kightley OscarOscar Kightley

    Oscar Kightley was born in Samoa and immigrated to New Zealand with his mother when he was four years old. Oscar first recognised his ability to make people laugh when he was a school boy.

    Oscar is one of the Naked Samoans, who've taken their anarchic brand of comedy around the country and even to Scotland. With the Naked Samoans and Firehorse Films, he completed the fifth series of bro'Town in 2009. Oscar co-wrote bro’Town with David Fane, Mario Gaoa and Shimpal Lelisi and is well known for his voice over character, Vale.


    Ness TigilauTigilau Ness

    Tigilau Ness is a Niuean New Zealand activist and reggae artist, and performs as Unity Pacific. Ness is a political activist and first generation Pacific Island New Zealander. In May 2009, Ness was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the fifth Pacific Music Awards in Auckland, New Zealand in recognition of more than 30 years in the music industry. He was involved in founding the Polynesian Panthers, a Polynesian rights group modelled after the Black Panthers.