In Support of the New Zealand Maori Councils
Decision in Favour of the 1970 All Black Tour
It is the secret ambition of every young man who has had any connection with sport, especially in football, to become an ‘All Black’ some day. Little boys at school become imbued with enthusiasm, when their fathers give them a football for their birthday. The fathers may not have had the same opportunities for showing their skill, but many are anxious for their sons to do better. They recreate their own ambitions in their sons and hope one day, that, ‘My son will be an All Black’. Many play, but few are chosen. What young man here, if he was lucky enough to be picked, would turn down the honour?
I would like to see the All Blacks go to Africa, with the blessing of all the people here. You will all agree with me I know, that to broaden the mind you need to visit other countries. Many of the boys who are chosen, will never have another opportunity of seeing Africa, never have the opportunity of showing the South Africans that two different people can play together as a team, in a friendly manner, practising together, mixing together socially and living amicably together, showing mutual respect for one another's failings, beliefs, traditions and feelings.
It is educational — they need to learn about Africa by seeing for themselves the way other people live. The trip will create good relations, and may be a means of building up the trade relations so badly needed by New Zealand today. There are many Negroes who are better educated than many of the top men in our own country. It is said that Negro doctors are restricted to treating their own people. What of it? There are enough Negroes to give the doctors all the patients they will ever need.
The word ‘Apartheid’, pronounced Apartate, means separate identities — segregation. In South Africa, segregation policies were applied and the doctrine of white supremacy reigns. We think we have no apartheid here, but how many Pakehas have asked Maoris into their homes? How many of you would accept an African Negro to board in your homes? Many people agitate against apartheid, and so long as it doesn't touch them personally, they are safe in airing their views and like to be regarded as being on the side of the underdog. How many Pake-has have lifted a hand to help a struggling Maori boy who has missed out on school certificate or university entrance by offering to board him; or a Maori student attending university? There would be more Maori boys in apprenticeship jobs in Palmerston North if some Pakehas would open their homes to them.
I will say that the main reason for this lack of personal interest is prejudice. Prejudice is something that we are all guilty of. We are prejudiced in many ways. The people in New Zealand are prejudiced against South Africa because of the way the natives are treated. The Negroes chased the Indians out of Kenya — they were prejudiced. The problems of South Africa belong to Africa. That is not our problem. We in New Zealand have our problems. We have plenty of them, but our problems are nothing compared with the problems of other nations, nations with major racial problems. There are few pure whites or pure Maoris amongst us in New Zealand. We are so mixed racially, that the safest way for us to describe ourselves is to say, ‘I am a New Zealander’, which I am, and it is something I am very proud of.
A small number of Maori students travelled round the East Coast recently with the idea of trying to influence the older people to think their way, which was to ban the tour of the All Blacks to South Africa. I really believe that they will think about it and agree that it is a good thing for the boys to go, because the experience will be of great value to sport in New Zealand.
I sincerely hope that when the All Blacks go, they will have the good wishes of the people behind them. It is people like those students who are helping to put thoughts
of segregation into our people's minds. These boys are young, virile, strong, full of energy — they have to get rid of a lot of surplus energy — so they spout ‘apartheid’, as something to shudder from. I say that they do not understand or know the problems in our own country, and they would be better occupied in trying to solve some of the anomalies that arise in our own country. I gained the opinion of several students — you would call it a cross section of young people. One said, ‘If only I was good enough to be picked, nothing would stop me from going’; another one said, ‘My greatest ambition is to be an All Black’; another said ‘I would certainly go if I had the remotest chance’.
In 1967, a New Zealand team without Maoris was to go to South Africa, but public opinion was so strong against it, and the Maori elders were so concerned, they said, ‘No Maoris, no tour’. I said the same.
For many years South Africa would not tolerate a mixed team going. It took 50 years for them to realise that New Zealand meant business, and it was driven home to them quite strongly, that unless Maoris were included, there would be no football. I think South Africa has made a big step in the right direction, in showing that they are willing for Maoris to go in the team, and by an assurance from the South African Consul that Maori supporters will also be treated with the greatest respect — a very big concession indeed from a nation such as this.
I was amused to read the telegram written many years ago that a certain reporter sent back to Africa after a Springbok match. It went something like this. ‘To have Natives play in Wellington against us was bad enough, but to see people our own colour barracking for them was the limit. Frankly we were disgusted.’ (The reporter was European.) The Pakehas were barracking for the Maoris!
We in New Zealand are one people living and working side by side in harmony. We have our differences, like families do. In the little things of life we have our differences, but in the big things of life, we are one.