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Ed Sheeran

Polynesian Panthers still walking alongside tangata whenua

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The Polynesian Panthers were born on this day in 1971, and founding member Tigilau Ness says it's been a 50-year struggle for justice which Māori have walked alongside.

Mr Ness says the Panthers want to see this month's apology for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s followed up by putting that history into the school curriculum so future generations will understand some of the challenges faced by Polynesians who made their homes in Aotearoa.

He says the group was formed about the same time as Ngā Tamatoa, and the two rōpū worked together on issues like recognition of te reo Māori, education, health, housing and protests against the Dawn Raids and Springbok tours.

"We as Polynesian Panthers recognise tangata whenua must first get justice before we consider our issues to be brought forward so we have been like that for the last 50 years and I think it still continues," he says.

Mr Ness says anniversary events include a dinner for members and whānau tonight, and a symposium on Friday at the University of Auckland Fale featuring members of the other progressive groups who worked with the Polynesian Panthers as well as a zoom session with leading members of the Black Panthers who are still fightring in the Black Lives Matter movement.

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