Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Mandela

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    Solidarity doesn’t just go across space, it also goes between times, and I think it’s perfectly possible to remember the struggles of the past and feel a sense of solidarity with the people who fought against apartheid even if you weren’t born then.

    Nicely put.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe,

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    There was however a very Wellington/Auckland thing going on (later on it also became an ANC vs. PAC thing with one group supporting one and one the other) – probably also caused by the various left factions that were locally ascendant at the time.

    This is a bit of theme in Geoff Chapple's book on the Tour, which I sat up re-reading last night & which captures so much of the vibe of the time it gave me bloody nightmares.

    I remember Hiwi Tauroa coming back from South Africa in (I think) either late 1980 or early 1981 - certainly not long before the Tour started.

    I think he was already Race Relations Conciliator but I'm not sure: he had been coach of Counties, a very very successful one, and was a real local hero.

    He was interviewed on TV after he came back - I think by Ian Fraser - and said, eventually and very heavily, he didn't think the 'Boks should come.

    It was a real 'more in sadness than in anger' declaration - at least, that is my memory of it - but you could hear the cocks crowing thrice between Pukekohe and Waiuku. Because it was such a rugby mad area, and it was seen as a massive betrayal by Tauroa.

    I also recall it being a surprise to a lot of people: there was a feeling Tauroa would be in the 'bridge building' camp.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan, in reply to Hebe,

    Agree Hebe, Mr Espiner makes some cogent points. The Stuff comments section confirms that the dark “don’t know, don’t wanna know” kiwi stereotype is still with us.
    One says John Minto should go to RSA and hopefully stay there. Another–“but whether or not the South African Government would actually allow him through customs. I bet they wouldn't. If he's so desperate to go, he should call 0800 QUANTAS and have his credit card handy, just like the rest of us.”

    Of course John Minto has already travelled to South Africa as a private citizen in the 2000s which visit included Robben Island and various towns and cities which informed his views of the post Apartheid scenario as he has outlined since and in the last few days. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11169600

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    He doesn’t give a date for this incident, but it would seem to be some time in 1917, as it happened when he was being shipped off to the First World War.

    Well, my father (who happened to support the Tour) didn't have to go to South Africa to experience that kind of racism. He got it in Wellington, in the fifties, when he and his (white) wife were told "we don't rent to your sort." More than once. It was a little more subtle than the 'No Dogs. No Blacks. No Irish' signs he saw in the windows of boarding houses in London a few years before, but I can understand why it was a hair he didn't want to split very far.

    Dad didn't have the luxury of missing the irony of well-intentioned people who were very long sighted about institutional and casual racism on the other side of the world (be it in South Africa or below the Mason-Dixon Line) but in their own backyard? Not quite so much.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    but in their own backyard?

    The '81 tour did give NZ a great lurch in the right direction, imho. Looking forward to watching Patu! again.
    Meanwhile, looks like the NZ delegation has been cut to only two, Key picked Cunliffe, who has offered his seat to Sharples. Not sure where that's going, but the live coverage will go all night.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dbIhuEyo0sI

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Cunliffe, who has offered his seat to Sharples

    RNZ notes that development. Smart leadership from one person, at least.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19683 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Sacha,

    RNZ notes that development. Smart leadership from one person, at least.

    Jesus, give it a bloody rest. Seriously. Nice gesture from David Cunliffe, and full credit, but if you wouldn’t have had something nasty to say about the Prime Minister “snubbing” the Leader of the Opposition at an occasion that should be absolutely non-partisan plenty would have lining up. I know Key just can’t catch a break around here, but try.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Sacha,

    RNZ notes that development. Smart leadership from one person, at least.

    This is as it should be. It is critical to the validity our nation’s tribute to Mandela that Tangata Whenua are represented there quite apart from ‘left’ and ‘right’. Well done David for recognising this.

    but if you wouldn’t have had something nasty to say about the Prime Minister “snubbing” the Leader of the Opposition

    I might've yeah, fair point. Regardless, I'm happy that both people - Key and Sharples - represent us.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Yeah Key had to offer Cunliffe the second seat, and Cunliffe had to offer that seat on to Sharples. It was correctly played by both.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    1981 it was a civil war - well almost.

    An image seared in my mind was looking up the railway line from Morningside to Kingsland and see riot squad members placed about ever 20 metres apart all the way around the bend.

    I can remember thinking, "I was so relieved we didn't have a gun culture". .

    Although I have in my mind his story when thinking of Nelson Mandela the images of the 1981 tour protests are stronger than any image I have of him as a person/statesman.

    I couldn't be dismissive of anyone involved in countering prejudice as "well-intentioned people who were very long sighted about institutional and casual racism on the other side of the world".

    Nelson Mandela's passing has, for me, become about overcoming prejudice and being glad people, not just here, but all over the world got up to meet the challenge.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to DexterX,

    I couldn’t be dismissive of anyone involved in countering prejudice as “well-intentioned people who were very long sighted about institutional and casual racism on the other side of the world”.

    That's nice, Dexter. Please quote the rest of the sentence, "...but in their own backyard? Not quite so much." I would warmly recommend another viewing of Patu, because that's a point Merata Mita (and many many Maori, not just in the anti-Tour movement) made with considerably more asperity than my father ever mustered. And, just between us, I don't think my father was talking out his arse when it came to everyday racism.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    everyday racism.

    It's still here. About five years ago I was crossing the road at my then local shops in South Brighton when a white trash-mobile roared past with bellows of "black cunt'. I was appalled and looked around to find the target. Then I remembered my t-shirt, a Rakiura production featuring a pounamu spiral, and dark hair and tanned olive skin and realised they were talking to me. I have never before experienced or forgotten that feeling of shock, anger, disbelief and vulnerability. I realised then, truly, what that everyday racism is and can do to its targets. I multiply that feeling day after day, year after year, of feeling not included, not counted and despised and I weep for those who live with that their whole lives.

    Yeah, the Tour marked a huge change in our society, but the racism is still there. Every day.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to DexterX,

    I can remember thinking, “I was so relieved we didn’t have a gun culture”. .

    I too had that thought in 1981, more than once on the streets of Wellington. Though after Molesworth Street I was never sure if the guns would not come out: that night we as young people lost our innocence. I missed Molesworth St because, unglamorously, I couldn't be bothered going out in the cold that night. After that it was civil war; grim determination rather than the more upbeat gatherings earlier in the winter. I happily agreed to my parents' requests from afar not to go to the Wellington game protest: they felt I was physically too small to stand a chance against the batons and too young and fiery to keep myself out of trouble. They were probably right.

    Someone mentioned earlier in the thread the pall that hung over the country; I only now have revisited it: it seemed the dank grey winter went on forever.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2895 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    John Key speaks to Newstalk ZB:

    The Prime Minister admits not to knowing much about Nelson Mandela before he was released from prison.

    Mr Key says his early memories of South Africa's first black President are vague.

    "I only really remember him sort of fundamentally coming out of prison and that time where he was president of South Africa, really.

    "And he always kind of struck me as this very gentle guy."

    So, not only does he not remember 1981, but he then managed to avoid a major international news story for another decade.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1321 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Hebe,

    After that it was civil war; grim determination rather than the more upbeat gatherings earlier in the winter.

    it was a very long, cold winter, we started marching at least a month before every Saturday, the cops had been touring the pubs showing off their shiny new batons for a couple of months by then - remember they didn't just play a few tests, they went up and down the country playing provincial teams too, 2 games a week for a month or so, which meant 2 marches a week for a month or so - my car was stolen sometime in the middle of it, the cops weren't that interested in me getting it back.

    It was also wonderfully empowering for young Maori - I went to Invercargil, we were terrified of this redneck town, many of us had been arrested in Carisbrook a few days before (who knew only one guy was allowed to blow whistles there ....), we rented furniture vans, filled them with mattresses and snuck into town after the crowd had gone into the game - there were all these local Maori kids who were excited to join us, standing up and proud in public for what seemed to me to be the first time - we snuck back out of town before the game let out, but they stayed behind.

    As I said I was more part of HART nationally after the tour - things changed, the whole Maori sovereignty movement sprung to the fore, with more of a "pakeha go home" vibe to it that carried it's own tensions - I think the tour helped move us all, pakeha in particular, forwards to a realisation that the Treaty was unfinished business.

    That last day in Dunedin the rain was horizontal in places, and yet everyone came out, it was important, and we completely bamboozled the police, our teams had shutdown TV both in Dunedin and Timaru, as a result there were angry rugby fans outside pubs, unable to hide from the protests because they no longer had a game to watch - and then after that last day it was simply over, and a let down because we hadn't stopped the tour, we felt we'd failed, it was all for nothing - it wasn't obvious until much later that really we had succeeded in the larger sense, we'd redeemed NZ despite the tour.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2605 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I like this piece from the Guardian about how Mandela would have laughed at the rightwing fawning over him.

    Noted it myself earlier, hence my scepticism over Hooton's sanctimonious and carefully advertised posturing over this and "Willie" and "JT". Considering how egregiously racist and cynical he's been in the past, I would have hoped that people would have assumed that he hadn't had a sudden visit ("visit", goddamnit, not "vista" - fucking autocorrect!) from the Ghost of Christmas Future.

    Leopards, spots etcetera.

    I won't be strumming any guitars or singing "Kumbaya", but please don't confuse the public theatrics of sentimentality with real feelings that may be kept private. I'm afraid that my Scottish heritage makes me sceptical of any public display of sentiment.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Well put.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Kracklite,

    hence my scepticism over Hooton’s sanctimonious and carefully advertised posturing over this and “Willie” and “JT”.

    On the contrary, I think these situations allow for moments of solidarity between disparate groups, and we should celebrate that opportunity.

    I also respect those who over the years have changed their views and have the guts to admit it, and apologise, like Jim Bolger did.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Ignore this if you like.

    We all have different ways of grieving. For some people it has to be overt, and some try to exploit that by theatrical displays or demands, but for some it's a private or discrete matter that is tacitly understood by others. Please don't undervalue the importance of tacit understanding or demand - even by implication - displays of "proper" feeling.

    I'm a little bit disturbed by the implication by a few here (no, I will not finger-point - that would be silly) that people should express their grief in "acceptable" ways, without qualification. The Grauniad article that Hilary and I have pointed to shows just how much celebration and loss can be manipulated. That doesn't mean however that sceptics feel any less.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Lilith __,

    Hi Lilith, regarding Bolger and Meurant, I would certainly agree. Possibly Hooton... but his conversion seems rather recent and sudden and too well advertised. Many of his past statements have been truly revolting.

    On the contrary, I think these situations allow for moments of solidarity between disparate groups, and we should celebrate that opportunity.

    Yes... though I'd wait a while to see if there is consistency and if the glass is half full or half empty...

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Kracklite,

    I’m a little bit disturbed by the implication by a few here (no, I will not finger-point – that would be silly) that people should express their grief in “acceptable” ways, without qualification

    A well made point Kracklite, a recently imported and more restrictive rule of etiquette it would seem, neither as open or as accepting as the inherited culture(s) of these lands:

    visitors come, sometimes from great distances despite only a distant relationship, to address the deceased. They may speak frankly of his or her faults as well as virtues, but singing and joking are also appropriate. Free expression of grief by both men and women is encouraged.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to mark taslov,

    ...and on that D♭...

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Matthew Hooton,

    I think the very conservatism of the white population helped with the transition to democracy – these old school lads were taught to respect their state president no matter who he was.

    Let's not paint the " white population" with the same brush.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4310 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason, in reply to Rob Hosking,

    Rob, thanks for the link. That's a great song.

    What I remember most from that dramatic day in Hamilton is a comment from one of the Springboks' coaches, "If this was South. Africa we'd send in the police with batons and teach them a lesson they'd never forget" . Kinda highlighted what we were marching for.

    As for Mandela, what a graceful human being. So glad he lived.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 258 posts Report Reply

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