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Dear America Wiki

Dawn Raid is a historical fiction novel written by Pauline Vaeluaga Smith. It is Smith's debut novel as well as the twenty-ninth book in the My New Zealand Story. The book was first published on February 28, 2018 by Scholastic New Zealand. An illustrated edition was published by Levine Querido on March 2, 2021 for an American audience.


"For my parents, Fou Liki Vaeluaga (Fred) and Raylene Dawn Ballantyne (née Patterson); the kids who shared the family nest: Sandy (Sandra Joy Borland), Rick (Ricky John Vaeluaga), Dazz (Darren Fou Vaeluaga); and Kaye Thorpe who shared a different nest"

Book description[]

"Imagine this: You're having an amazing family holiday, one where everyone is there and all eighteen of you are squeezed into one house. Fast forward to 4 o'clock in the morning, and there's banging and yelling and screaming. The police are in the house, pulling people out of bed...
Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia's main worries are how she can earn enough pocket money to buy the groovy go-go boots that are all the rage, and if she will die of embarrassment giving a speech she has to do for school! It comes as a surprise to Sofia and her family when her big brother, Lenny, talks about protests, overstayers and injustices against Pacific Islanders.
Through her spirited and heartfelt diary entries, we join Sofia as she navigates life in the 1970s and is inspired by the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.

""Imagine this: You're having an amazing family holiday, one where everyone is there and all 18 of you are squeezed into one house. All of sudden it's 4 o'clock in the morning and there's banging and yelling and screaming. The police are in the house pulling people out of bed..."
Sofia is like most girls in 1976 New Zealand. How is she going to earn enough money for those boots? WHY does she have to give that speech at school? Who is she going to be friends with this year?
It comes as a surprise to Sofia and her family when her big brother, Lenny, starts talking about protests, "overstayers," and injustices against Pacific Islanders by the government. Inspired by the Black Panthers in America, a group has formed called the Polynesian Panthers, who encourage immigrant and Indigenous families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights. Soon the whole family becomes involved in the movement.
Told through Sofia's diary entries, with illustrations throughout,
Dawn Raid is the story of one ordinary girl living in extraordinary times, learning how to speak up and fight."


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Historical Note[]


Main article: List of Dawn Raid characters


Main article: Pauline Vaeluaga Smith

Pauline Vaeluaga Smith is a New Zealand author and educationalist. She is currently the director of the Murihiku Māori and Pasifika Cultural Trust.[2] Dawn Raid is her debut novel. It was inspired by Smith's experiences during the 1970s as well as her desire to "uplift" the New Zealand Māori and Pasifika cultures.[3] Smith was not "fully aware" of the dawn raids until she found information on it at the University of Otago as an adult. For Dawn Raid, she interviewed several people whom had been targeted in the dawn raids as well as the surviving Polynesian Panthers members.[4]


  • Narrator: Irasa Siave
  • Publisher: Audiobooks NZ
  • Published: April 3, 2020[8]
  • Running time: 3 hours and 45 minutes

  • Narrator: Tameka Sowman Vahatau
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media
  • Published: March 18, 2021[9]
  • Running time: 3 hours and 30 minutes




"I acknowledge the courageous and adventurous Pacific pioneers who migrated to Aotearoa for a better life for themselves and their children. To the Polynesian Panthers and supporters who stood against injustice and empowered people to stand up for their rights, I am in awe of your determination, resilience, and bravery. I acknowledge the late Prime Minister, David Lange, who stood up for people when they needed his support. A massive fa'afetai to Alini Finlayson, Tigilau Ness, Johnny Penisula, Dr. Melani Anae, and Reverend Alec Toleafoa for sharing personal stories and experiences of the dawn raid era.
Much alofa to my friends and family who have walked this journey with me offering feedback and encouragement: the support crew, Junior Tonga, Tania Carran-Tonga, Ari Edgecombe, Gordy Ballantyne, Christina Jeffery, Colin Jeffery, Mary O'Rourke, Victor Rodger, Lyn McDonald, and Mavis Penisula. Paula Woods, thank you for having your ears open and connecting the dots with Lynette Evans and Penny Scown, Scholastic NZ.
Warmest thanks to team Levine Querido, especially the wonderful Nick Thomas, it has been a joy working with you and the talented Mat Hunkin.
My heartfelt thanks to my number one proofreader and cheerleader Chris Horwell (the best SS ever), also number two, Mandy Smith, and number three, my Mum, who loves my work. I have to ask, do reviews count if they come from your Mum?
MY FAMILY, Geoff you win the "Oscar" for best male in a supporting role. Sarah and Mandy, I can hardly believe how lucky I am to have children who inspire me so. For my grandchildren Caden, Brooklyn, Indy, Ella, and Ali, you are the fuel for my soul.


  • The cover of the original My New Zealand Story edition was illustrated by Minky Stapleton.[12]
  • The Levine Querido edition was illustrated by New Zealand artist Mat Hunkin.
  • Smith helped develop an exhibit, "The Dawn Raids: Educate to Liberate," coinciding with the book's release. It opened at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery on March 3, 2018.[13] The exhibit visited several cities, including Auckland (2019, 2021),[14][4] Porirua (2019),[15] and Christchurch (2019)[16]


See also[]

File:Dawn Raid Information Sheet.pdf, File:Dawn Raid Teacher Notes.pdf

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