Recently the NZ Herald published a ridiculous article from Trevor Richards, a name probably meaning nothing to New Zealanders under about 35 years of age. Richards led the HART (Halt All Racist Tours) movement in 1981, opposing that year’s Springbok rugby tour.
But it was not that of which he wrote, rather it was about Norman Kirk who as Prime Minister stopped the proposed 1973 Springbok tour. This action Richards claimed was pivotal in Labour’s 1975 election defeat.
That is nonsense. There were many reasons Labour lost that year, none relating to rugby. Richards could however Google then Prime Minister Bill Rowling’s election night concession speech in which Rowling laid the cause singularly at me and my well justified actions at the time.
That’s another story however, other than to add that in the subsequent years many prominent Labour politician friends told me I should never apologise as the behaviour of then cock-ahoop and soon to disappear three new young Labour MPs towards me under parliamentary privilege, fully justified my actions.
But here’s a question I’d like an answer from Richards. Why was he and his organisation totally silent in 1987 when a few months after a race-based military coup by the Rabuka buffoon (now again Fiji’s PM) who led a group of his machine-gun wielding colleagues into Fiji’s Parliament and installed a totally race-based military regime, a Fijian rugby tour occurred in New Zealand? Where was HART Trevor?
The only protest action over this anti-Indian new apartheid system was in fact by me, specifically in ejecting the Fijian High Commission from their offices in one of my buildings.
Later that year I found myself sitting with our then Foreign Minister Russell Marshall at a test cricket match in Christchurch. I liked Russell, indeed had even played a small role in his 1981 pre-election fund-raising at his request so I taunted him on this racist inconsistency.
He freely conceded it, saying (correctly) it’s very easy to preach virtue when in Opposition but once in government, it’s a hell of a lot harder to practice it when so many other considerations come into play.
So too with Lange. Pressed by me to send in the army as knowing the Fijian military they’d have instantly submitted, he claimed he’d hit Bob Hawke up for a joint invasion force which Hawke declined. Rabuka himself subsequently admitted he’d expected such an intervention and would sensibly have immediately submitted.
Richards tried to rewrite history with his Herald article. But the fact remains that it would appear his Halt all Racist Tours movement seemingly only applied when the racists were whites, as in South Africa. Otherwise it was turn the other cheek.
One exception Bob. Pat Kelly was ‘all in’ with HART but was your greatest supporter in evicting the High Commission….A man of principle.
I remember that time quite clearly, Bob.
As I recall your party – The New Zealand Party – got 13% of the vote, but no seats in parliament, which was an outrage to those of us who voted for you.