Once a Panther

On June 16, 1971, a radical group of Pasifika and Māori men and women confronted state-sanctioned racism to form the Polynesian Panther Party. Like their seafaring ancestors before them, the Polynesian Panthers guided their people to a new horizon – but instead of stormy seas, they navigated a red-blooded nation raging with rugby, racism and beer. Made with funding from NZ On Air. Episode six will be available from Friday, 25 June, 2021.

Once a Panther


You can listen episodes under the area!

On June 16, 1971, a group of radical young Pasifika and Māori men and women confronted state-sanctioned oppression and formed the Polynesian Panther Party. Inspired by their counterparts in the United States, they stood up in black berets with matching afros and had one goal in mind — revolution.

Panther Melani Anae takes us through the first waves of Polynesian immigration to Aotearoa and their struggle to find an identity in Auckland’s Pacific Island in the city.

Panther Alec Toleafoa reveals the brutal tactics used by a government intent on marginalising Polynesians with policies like the Dawn Raids.

Panther Will 'Ilolahia and his ministers find creative ways to keep up the resistance while fighting alongside tangata whenua tests the relationship with their parents.

The need to confront racism ignites a bitterly divided country during the 1981 Springbok tour. Panther Wayne Toleafoa finds himself in the middle of the violent clashes.

Fighting against racial oppression takes its toll on Panther Tigilau Ness despite international recognition from leaders like South Africa’s Nelson Mandela.

Was it worth it? How race relations in NZ today mirror 50 years ago and how young people can be heard.