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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38 No. 22. September 11, 1975

Dogs Turned on Tongan Workers

Dogs Turned on Tongan Workers

Care protests the use of police dogs and other irregularities in arrest of alleged illegal immigrants

Last year the Minister of Immigration (Mr Colman) admitted that dawn raids on immigrants were 'alien to the New Zealand way of life'. Now raids have taken place at 9.00 - 9.30 p.m. or thereabouts but with the use of police dogs to intimidate the immigrants. The Citizens Association for Racial Equality (Care) has fully investigated the events of last Wednesday when there were raids on Tongans in the Ellerslie area and we are very concerned about a number of factors:
1.Use of police dogs: At one house 2 police dogs were used — one was stationed at the back door, and one was brought into the sitting room. When one resident asked a policeman to show a search warrant one dog was moved forward and began snarling. The policeman threatened to set the dog on anyone who tried to move away.
2.No reasonable time to produce passports and relevant documentation: At one house it was pointed out to the policemen and to the immigration officer present that most of the passports were in the possession of a travel agency. Nevertheless those who could not immediately produce a passport were ordered into a police van in the clothes they stood up in and were taken into custody at the police station. Two people were held for a couple of hours, and 1 person all night but were then released without being charged upon documentation becoming more available.
3.Extremely high bond requirements: When the 11 persons arrested were charged before Mr Browne S.M. they either pleaded not guilty or entered no plea and applied for bail. Those charged with illegal overstaying were granted bail but only upon condition that they each put up a bond of $ 400 and that they each found two other persons to put up $400 total $1200. This is an enormously high figure for an offence with a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment but which is normally dealt with by deportation only. The lawyers involved in these cases were staggered at the total amount of bond money required (See footnote below).
4.Inefficiencies in the Labour Department Head Office: Many of the alleged overstayers have in fact applied for permit extensions or for permanent residence. These applications have been sent to Wellington some considerable time ago, indeed as long ago as February and March in some cases, yet no definite replies have been received. It seems grossly unjust to be arresting immigrants as illegal overstayers when their continued presence in New Zealand is because they are awaiting word from Wellington as to whether or not they can legally stay on.

In reply to a recent Care letter concerning similar raids on Samoans in South Auckland the Minister of Immigration (Mr Colman) wrote that: "I do not accept that the wellbeing of the community must in all cases be subjugated to the rights of the individual".

It appears to be Government policy, therefore, that Pacific Islands immigrants may have their rights and civil liberties disregarded in the interests of the community as a whole — as seen by the Ministers of Immigration and Police, and their officers.

Care calls upon concerned citizens and organisation to protest to the Ministers of Immigration and Police about these injustices and in particular about the use of police dogs.

— David Williams

Secretary, Care.

Footnote: The bonds required from the Pacific Islands immigrants may be compared with an Australian who was convicted for being an illegal immigrant on Saturday before Mr Paul S.M. He had had a number of previous convictions, including one for armed robbery. He was released pending deportation upon putting up bonds totalling $500. So . . . $500 for a white Australian with many other convictions, $1200 for Pacific Islanders with no recorded convictions.

Labour Immigration Minister Fraser Colman

Labour Immigration Minister Fraser Colman

Police Victim tells his story

I, Tangi Mausia, do make an oath and solemnly swear that these things happen to me on the night of 20 August round about ten o'clock or quarter to ten at 192 Main Highway Ellerslie when someone knocked at the door.

Entering inside were three Policemen and one Labour Department's official. They asked for our passports. I told them that Lyn and Tuione Fair had my passport at the Southern Tours Travel. I was scared. One Policeman and a dog broke in from the backdoor which was closed. The dog rushed in and nearly bite me.

Sione Mounga asked them on what ground make them get inside the house without permission. They seemed to retreat but came back telling that if I run away the dog will definitely bite me. To my amazement I was freezing with fear. I did not expect policemen in more civilised country like New Zealand acted so brutal as this. I was told to get into the van. They took me and put me in prison.

This statement was made by Tangi Mausia.

(Note: Literal translation of statement made by Mr Mausia — one of those picked up He is a 59 year old man.)