Past administrations appeased SA rugby shamefully

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.

5 Comments Posted

  1. Toad-I suppose Meads epitomizes what was generally promoted as the consummate kiwi male; staunch, few words, solid farmingstock, meat eating, conservative and as solid and unbending as a tanalized fence post. The media was probably largely responsible for creating the myths that developed around him.

    The likes of Mourie, Kirk, Kirwan, Laidlaw and Anton Oliver just don’t fit the simple All Black stereotype and yet all have contributed far more to New Zealand society

  2. And David Kirk and John Kirwan, sprout, both of whom also refused to play against South Africa during the apartheied era.

    I’ve always thought it strange that Kirk, as our only ever World Cup winning captain, only got an MBE while Meads, despite his support for apartheid, was awarded a much higher honour.

  3. Even the last Labour-led administration has something to answer for in that regard. In 2001 they made Colin Meads a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

    He converted that to the honour of Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit last year.

    Meads was not only a participant in racially selected tours. He could possibly have been excused for that in his days as a player – due to ignorance. But in 1986 he coached the rebel All Black “Cavaliers” tour of apartheid South Africa. He could have had no excuse by then – the High Court had stopped the scheduled All Black tour of South Africa the previous year and after that and the 1981 Springbok Tour, the full horror of apartheid must have been well known to all New Zealanders, including Meads, by 1986.

    Now Meads pops up again, just yesterday, pandering to racists by asking the Prime Minister:

    Do you think you are doing too much for the Maori people? Is it just to keep their votes?

    However good a rugby player he was, Meads is clearly an overt racist, and the award of any honour to him degrades our honours system. What was Helen Clark ever thinking of by approving one?

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