PM stands by Mandela funeral decision

John Key. Photo Reuters
John Key. Photo Reuters
Prime Minister John Key is standing by his decision to lead the delegation of New Zealanders to Nelson Mandela's funeral in South Africa, despite not being active in opposing the 1981 Springbok tour.

Mr Key has come under criticism for not taking with him any New Zealanders who were at the heart of the highly divisive and influential protests against the whites-only South African rugby team playing in New Zealand.

He has previously been quoted as saying he was "mildly pro-tour" and has avoided speaking at length about the topic.

His response was no different this morning, when he told TVNZ's Breakfast programme: "I'm not going to bother going into it because if I do it will create a whole lot of other stories".

"I can go through the whole thing but the bottom line is, I'm opposed to apartheid. I didn't go and protest against the 81 tour, I didn't go to any of the games. I was about 20 years of age and I had a whole lot of other things to do at the time."

He said he had selected the members of the delegation after taking advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

"I thought David Cunliffe should come and that was really based on the view that, if you look at Mandela and his life, he was a guy that could have been very bitter but actually everything that personifies Nelson Mandela was unity ... so it seemed a bit churlish not to have the leader of the opposition there.

"In terms of the protesters, of course we could have had some. It wasn't that we were particularly shunning them, but in the end we thought the grouping that we got - the former Commonwealth Secretary General, the prime minister of the day, Jim Bolger, and Pita Sharples is the representative of indigenous people - we had the combination about right."

Anti-apartheid protest leader John Minto said the delegation was heavily weighted with those who supported the 1981 tour, apologists for South Africa's apartheid regime and opposed to New Zealand's anti-apartheid movement.

"In all conscience they should resign from the delegation," he said.

Mr Minto said he would not be attending the funeral.

Mandela, South Africa's former president and anti-apartheid hero, died on Friday after a lengthy illness.


Reverse racism really?

Te Jackle: I'm absolutely dumbfounded by your statement. Do you even understand what apartheid is? You do understand that coloured minorities were given absolutely no rights.  
Imagine having to face segregation and persecution at every stage of every day in your life - where you live, where you dine, how you travel, where you study, why ... even what you could say or talk. That is apartheid. It was vile and heinous and Caucasians have successfully done this for 500 years at the least.
What you don't understand is what this has done to the psyche of coloured folks, made to believe over generations that they are inferior to lighter skinned folks. A blow of this size takes decades, if not centuries, to overcome.
I am coloured and I have lived in NZ for 6 years never having had to face any persecution, but it just takes one thought like yours to wipe out the brilliant behaviour of hundreds of your Caucasian countrymen.


Take Murray to everything

Murray McCully should be there. A one time long haired, bearded Young Nat, The Hon M McCully was a frontline anti apartheid protester.

Typical what?

NZ now practises reverse apartheid afterall how many Caucasians do you see playing in the various ethnic sports teams that this country fields, with no white only sports teams I might add, if it is apartheid or racist to have a white only sports team then why is it not also racist or aparthied to do the same in reverse. Yes reverse apartheid is alive and well in NZ.


The arrogance of Key is outstanding on this issue.

Of course he was pro tour and now he's changed his stance.  Mandela forgave this two facedness from all and we must.

The fact that people like Trevor Richards et al are not part of our delegation is  the part that is arrogant.  New Zealand was in fact a leader with Mandela's cause and the cause of black south africans.

To send a delegation without the apartheid activists who helped change a nation is totally against the Mandela philosophy. 

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