On Friday I put out a press statement welcoming the apology from the NZ Rugby Football Union over the exclusion of Maori from the 1928, 1949 and 1960 teams sent to South Africa.
Since then I have read up more on they way the New Zealand governments at the time supported these tours. In both 1948 and 1960 the government hosted official farewells at Parliament for the all-white All Blacks, despite significant public protest.
I am more familiar with the 1960 protests, in which I was a participant.
In that year one thousand people protested outside Parliament while the team was being honoured inside. The Nash government had already received the largest citizens’ petition since the time of the suffrage movement, with 153,000 signatures protesting the exclusion of Maori.
Appeals also came from the African National Congress and the South African Liberal Party but the government turned a deaf ear.
It’s not as if Prime Minister Nash didn’t know what was going on in South Africa. On 21 March, not long before the tour, 69 Black protesters were shot dead by Police in the town of Sharpeville, a massacre which shocked the world.
Not all the blame lies with the New Zealand Rugby Union. An apology from the New Zealand government is also due.