The Polynesian Panthers were a gang of activists who fought and protested the New Zealand government back in the 70s while the dawn raids were happening. These early morning home invasions by the police targeted Polynesian overstayers, rounded them up and deported them back to their home country.
That's the general gist. It's also the total sum knowledge I have of this shameful part of our recent New Zealand history. You'll notice it's woefully short on concrete details or stone cold facts and figures. That's because I don't know any.
When, exactly, did this all happen? How many families woke up in sheer terror as officers smashed down their doors? Who ordered it? How did it happen? Could it happen again?
I'll accept my lack of knowledge as a personal failing, sure. It's not like this is dusty old history that happened hundreds of years ago. It wasn't even 50 years ago.
But it's also something that, at the very least, should have had a lesson or two devoted to in school. Especially considering I was born and raised in the largest Polynesian city in the world. I attended primary and secondary schools that were all multi-cultural and I spent years sitting in a class called Social Studies. Did my school pals have close ties to the dawn raids? Very probably.
It can only be labelled a general societal shortcoming that the two hours I spent watching TVNZ's new local drama The Panthers taught me more about this part of our history than our own education system.
Had I been supplied all six episodes of the show, I'd have eagerly binged the lot. Not because I'm suddenly a born again student of Aotearoa's history, but rather because The Panthers is a thoroughly gripping and incredibly slick show.
That what it's depicting is all real and actually happened on our own doorstep only makes it hit that much harder.
Well, I say "all real" but I mean that loosely. It's obvious that this, being a hugely entertaining television show and not a hard-hitting documentary, has taken liberties with history for dramatic purposes.
I'm totally okay with that. The show more than succeeds in inviting curiosity to learn more. But for now I'm happy simply going along for the ride. I'll sort the fact from the fiction later.
The Panthers lands in full on TVNZ OnDemand on Sunday, and while its based on true events it's not beholden to them. First and foremost it's an engrossing and engaging watch that can stand proudly among the very best shows of the year - both local and international.
It's anchored by a star-making turn from the relatively unknown actor Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi, whose earnest and idealistic portrayal of Will 'Ilolahia, the founder of the Polynesian Panthers, will no doubt launch a long and fruitful career.
He's pitted against screen veteran Roy Billing, who looks like he's having a complete ball smugly quacking his way through his scenes as the series villain and former Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon.
Working at a brisk-but-not-rushed pace, the series quickly establishes its plot lines; the formation of the Panthers, a love triangle between Will, the violent gang leader Ice and his baby mama Tessa, and the moral crises and marital problems facing white police officer Jimmy after transferring from sleepy Invercargill to the thick of Ponsonby's race riots - which are brought to life here in brutally intense, bone-breaking detail.
It's these that pave the way for Muldoon to cackle his way through a monologue that, despite being nearly half a century old, remains depressingly relevant today.
"The average bloke doesn't want to be free. He simply wants to be safe. To be able to enjoy a cold beer on a hot day. So what do I need to do? Firstly, I must illuminate the real and dangerous threat that this current excuse of a government is to his safety and his way of life. Once there's a groundswell of support in my favour I must come forth to his rescue."
This may be fictional dialogue but its based on Muldoon's speeches and his actions that followed. It's a playbook that's still being trotted out today with a deplorable level of success.
Politicians here routinely attempt to emulate it as they try to pick fights and start culture wars wherever they can. Witness the push back against simple, common sense things, like schools teaching the history of Aotearoa. Or even calling the country Aotearoa.
This faux-outrage designed to wind people up and divide us is cynical and cheap and shouldn't be fallen for.
We should all know the history of the country, the history of our home. It's not something we should have to learn about on TV.