Kōrero: Anti-racism and Treaty of Waitangi activism

Whārangi 3. Opposing domestic and international racism, 1960s and 1970s

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero

Myth of racial harmony

Until the 1960s many Pākehā New Zealanders, including those opposed to racially selected sports teams, believed their own country’s race relations were beyond reproach. They assumed full equality between Māori and Pākehā was an established part of the New Zealand way of life. Only occasional voices suggested otherwise.

One was Professor Ivan Sutherland, an anthropologist teaching at Canterbury University College. In 1935 Sutherland wrote The Maori situation, an appeal for a more sympathetic understanding of the Māori point of view. In 1940 he edited a general survey of the condition of Māori, The Maori people today. These books and Sutherland’s later efforts on behalf of Māori led the Ngāti Porou people to name him Paikea, after their most famous ancestor.

Discrimination against Māori remained widespread. A US psychologist visiting New Zealand in the 1950s, David Ausubel, was appalled at the level of racial discrimination he observed – in Pukekohe, South Auckland, Māori were barred from hotel bars and barbershops and restricted to the back stalls of the movie theatre until the early 1960s.

Citizens Association for Racial Equality

When a fourth Springbok tour to New Zealand was planned for 1965, public opposition led to the formation of New Zealand’s first specifically anti-racist organisation. The Citizens Association for Racial Equality (CARE) was formed in Auckland in 1964. The group aimed to devote equal attention to racial questions in New Zealand and abroad. As well as protesting against the 1965 tour, they began considering the problems faced by Māori and Polynesians moving to the cities. CARE set up the first Citizens Advice Bureau, and made a submission opposing the Maori Affairs Amendment Act 1967, which allowed the confiscation of unused Māori land, but not unused land owned by Europeans.

Tom Newnham was CARE’s secretary from 1966 and helped organise nationwide protest against a proposed tour of South Africa by an all-white All Black team in 1967. The New Zealand government was, by then, prepared to put pressure on the Rugby Football Union, which cancelled the planned tour.

Keeping politics in sport

Groups opposed to sporting contacts with South Africa were regularly accused of being ‘anti-sport’. This accusation was flung during one public meeting in the mid-1970s. HART activist and sports fanatic Dave Wickham shouted back, ‘Okay, let’s start with the 1960 All Blacks. You name the backs and I’ll name the forwards – or would you rather do it the other way round?’1 The meeting dissolved into laughter and applause for the anti-apartheid speakers.

Halt All Racist Tours (HART)

Another All Black tour was planned for 1970. To organise opposition to it, Trevor Richards of the New Zealand University Students’ Association formed Halt All Racist Tours (HART) in 1969.

Māori groups such as the Māori Organisation on Human Rights, led by Tamatekapua Poata, also spoke out against this tour. Syd Jackson, leader of the New Zealand Federation of Māori Students, said his members opposed the tour even if Māori players were included. In 1970 and 1976 the All Blacks toured South Africa with Māori team members, who were declared to be ‘honorary whites’.

Links with international anti-racist groups

The anti-racism movement had become openly anti-apartheid and had an international focus. Strong links developed with overseas bodies such as the Organisation of African Unity, the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa, the United Nations and the governments of Tanzania and Nigeria. In 1971 HART and CARE called on the government to make guidelines for sporting contacts with South Africa, but without success. When a further Springbok tour was scheduled for 1973, HART threatened nationwide non-violent disruption. It was confronted by equally vehement pro-tour groups such as War Against Recreational Disruption (WARD), which claimed 3,000 members. The government believed the proposed tour would strain domestic race relations, and it was cancelled.

Kupu tāpiri
  1. Quoted in Trevor Richards, Dancing on our bones: New Zealand, South Africa, rugby and racism. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 1999, p. 48. Back
Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Robert Consedine, 'Anti-racism and Treaty of Waitangi activism - Opposing domestic and international racism, 1960s and 1970s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/anti-racism-and-treaty-of-waitangi-activism/page-3 (accessed 22 July 2024)

He kōrero nā Robert Consedine, i tāngia i te 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 28 May 2018