Dawn Raids by Oscar Kightley (Playmarket, Victoria University Press, 2017), 103 pp., $18
Twenty years on from its premiere in 1997, and more than 40 from the events it depicts, Oscar Kightley’s seminal play, Dawn Raids, continues to resonate – and perhaps for more than the obvious reasons.
The raids, a shameful episode in this country’s history, were initiated under the Labour government of Norman Kirk from about 1973 and carried out with renewed zeal by the National government of Robert Muldoon from 1975. They were aimed at finding and repatriating Pacific Islanders who had overstayed their work permit visas. The searches were typically executed in the early hours of the morning and were carried out by immigration officials and squads of police with dogs. Pasifika people were woken from their beds, randomly stopped in the street or singled out at their work places, and asked to show proof of identity and immigration status. Those failing to produce the requisite paperwork were deemed to be ‘overstayers’ and summarily deported. [Read more…]