WITN0518001-0001 Witness Name: Tigilau Ness Statement No.: WITN0518001 Exhibits: WITN0518002-WITN0518006 Dated: 11.06.2021 ROYAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO ABUSE IN CARE WITNESS STATEMENT OF TIGILAU NESS I, Tigilau Ness, will say as follows: "AS POLYNESIAN LIBERATION FIGHTERS WE WORK FOR THE END TO RACISM, EXPLOITATION, INJUSTICE AND OPPRESSION THAT OUR PEOPLE SUFFER IN THIS SOCIETY..." Polynesian Panther Party- Platform and Programme, January 1974 INTRODUCTION 1. Kia ora and Fakaalofa lahi atu. My full name is Tigilau Ness. I am a first generation, New Zealand born Niue Pacific Islander. I was born in 1955. 2. I am a member of the Polynesian Panther Party, a social justice movement established on 16 June 1971 to target racial inequalities carried out against Pacific Islanders and indigenous Maori. 3. I am making this statement to provide context around Pacific Island people living in Aotearoa New Zealand from the 1950s. As part of this, I will talk about the Polynesian Panthers and my role in it. I will also talk about the dawn raids, the 1 WITN0518001-0002 abuse of our people in State care and the impact of this on Pacific Island people living in Aotearoa New Zealand. MIGRATION TO NEW ZEALAND 4. The first big wave of migrants from the Pacific Islands began in the 1950s. New Zealand turned to the Pacific for workers and our people were enticed and encouraged to come over and take up jobs that could not be filled or that no one wanted. As a result, our people came over in increasing numbers to work. 5. Migrants from Niue, Tokelau and Cook Islands arrived as New Zealand Citizens but other Pacific Islanders from countries such as Tonga, Samoa and Fiji required immigration visas. The Government granted short tourist visitor visas knowing full well that our people were not coming here to visit but that they were coming here to work. 6. My mother and father came to New Zealand from Niue in 1950to meet the labour shortage. They came here for a better life. 7. Many of our Pacific people first settled in and around central Auckland suburbs, including Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Kingsland, and Parnell. They mostly took up jobs in the factories or other labour-intensive work. 8. I grew up in Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. Dad died in my arms when I was 6 years old. He died of what Pacific Islanders called the 'sugar sickness'. Not much was known about diabetes back then or how to treat it. So Mum became a widow raising myself and my two sisters. Mum was a staunch Christian who taught us to read and write from the Niue bible. 9. The Pacific Islanders' Congregational Church ("PICC") in Newton, Auckland, became a focal point, where all the different Pacific Island ethnicities gathered. The Church was where information was passed out, disseminated, help was given and families got together. That became the village. 10. Karangahape Road, as Reverend Alec Toleafoa described one day, was our internet highway back in those days, where people would go up and down the streets, meet each other, swaps stories and catch-up face to face. 2 WITN0518001-0003 11. Ponsonby back then was very vibrant and multicultural - about 70% Pacific Island and Maori, 30% European. Now, 50 years later, the stats are so very different. Back then, buses to Ponsonby were labelled the 'Congo run'. 12. It was difficult for Pacific Islanders once they arrived in New Zealand. There was nothing set up to culturally integrate our people. It was the new society that dominated and we were expected to assimilate and just fit in. 13. In those days, after work all the men went to the pub. The more you drank, the more manly you were. Over time, our men would congregate at the pubs too. They learnt those ways. This was the time of 6 o'clock closing for the pubs. So, you would go in, drink real hard and fast before the pub closed. The culture was that this was how to relax. You felt compelled to go and fit in. It became a male way for us to get together and catch up. Instead of the PICC, the hub became the pub. The culture was to drink and be a man. 14. So many of our people had never experienced this kind of drinking culture before. Some of our people got sucked in, trapped into alcoholism or couldn't handle their liquor. That brought out heaps of other things: family violence, relationship break-ups, and other abuse. 15. My Dad would speak of handing jugs of beer out the window at the pub because Maori weren't allowed at some public bars. In some places Mao

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