HUMAN RIGHTS AND SPORTING CONTACTS: New Zealand Attitudes to Race Relations in South Africa 1921-94.


HUMAN RIGHTS AND SPORTING CONTACTS: New Zealand Attitudes to Race Relations in South Africa 1921-94

Author: Malcolm Templeton Published by: Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1998, 374pp, $39.95.

This is one of the best books to come out in recent years on New Zealand's external relations. Unlike most works in tiffs field, it is as much about domestic affairs as about foreign policy. The author summarises his subject as `the development ... of international opposition to racial discrimination, with the impact of that opposition on sporting relations between New Zealand and South Africa, and with the repercussions on New Zealand's domestic politics and its foreign relations'. Both he and the publishers are to be congratulated on their timing -- the eve of 1999, the centennial year of the first New Zealand contingent to fight in the South African War (1899-1902) and also the year when Commonwealth Heads of Government meet in South Africa.

The main episodes in the storyline are familiar: the `No Maoris No Tour' agitation of 1960; Norman Kirk's requiring the Rugby Union to defer a scheduled Springbok tour in 1973 lest it prejudice the Christchurch Commonwealth Games; the 1976 All Black tour causing the move to have New Zealand excluded from the Montreal Olympics and the withdrawal of twenty-seven teams from those Games; the Gleneagles agreement of 1977; the Springbok tour of 1981, creating one of only three civil strife crises in New Zealand's history, and causing an attempt to have the country excluded from the Brisbane Commonwealth Games; the 1985 All Black tour, called off at the last minute after a legal challenge by two rugby-playing Auckland lawyers; and the unofficial `Cavalier' tour of 1986. Malcolm Templeton provides graphic new material on all these incidents based on a close study of the Foreign Affairs files, private papers and memoirs, and interviews with participants in key events.

Writing as a former Foreign Service officer and Permanent Representative at the United Nations, he is frank about his professional perspective. He is not writing as a rugby commentator, or human rights activist, or politician, or impartial historian, but as one with intimate experience and involvement in the department charged with protecting New Zealand's national interests and protecting its international reputation. He admits that sporting-contacts-with-South Africa presented one of the most sensitive issues any government had to face.

A clash of...

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