John Key shouldn’t be going to Nelson Mandela’s funeral


It is to our shame that a Prime Minister who can’t can’t even remember what side of the debate he was on during the Springbok Tour will represent us at Nelson Mandela’s funeral…

…from a Political Party that not only instigated the Springbok Tour but also pushed to keep Nelson Mandela branded as an ANC Terrorist

Jul 21, 1988 – Dr LOCKWOOD SMITH (Kaipara) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: “Is it correct that a New Zealand Nelson Mandela scholarship has been established by … of the African National Congress to study at a tertiary institution in New Zealand? … Congress—and will not have been involved in terrorist activities?

…it is a shame that National, the Party who hated on Nelson Mandela the most and who is the Party that ripped the country in two over the Springbok Tour and now led by a Prime Minister who couldn’t even remember what side of the debate he was on will represent us because dammit, the bloody National Party are a disgrace on the Nelson Mandela issue.

The people who should be going to Nelson’s funeral are the John Mintos, the Donna Awatere Huatas, the Trevor Richards, the Annette Sykes, the Hone Harawiras, the Andrew Beyers, the Syd Jacksons. Those who stood on the front lines of the Police baton charges, those who rallied this Nation to respond to the National Party’s racist Springbok Tour and those that challenged red neck National Party voters.

Those are the heroes who deserve to weep at Nelson’s funeral, not the Political Party that did more in NZ than any other to support the very apartheid horror that Nelson spent his life fighting.

While John Key couldn’t remember what side he was on during the Springbok Tour, this is what Nelson said when he heard that we were fighting for him in NZ…


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…those who fought the Springbok Tour can feel pride that we gave Mandela a ray of sunshine in his bleakest moment. Those within NZ who still clasp desperately like old racists to their ‘it’s just rugby’ delusion should be afforded the same contempt National now deserve.

Let us allow Nelson to rest in peace, let’s never allow his detractors and haters to rest ever.


  1. Hypocrisy will be rampant during this time. You’re right, John Key should not attend.His party brought us close to a civil war in 1981. I remember it well. Elderly women being hit by policemen’s truncheons.
    The ANC have acknowledged just how crucial the sports boycott was in ending apartheid, no thanks to Muldoon’s national govt.

    • I cannot bare the thought of Key even commenting on his life, or passing, let alone going to the funeral. So glad I no longer have a television.

      • I agree. The fact that he says he doesn’t remember his stance at the time is a complete lie. No one of that age could forget that time. It should be no shock as DonKey is a compulsive liar and sociopath. I feel so disgusted that ANY national party members are going while John Minto and the rest are not. And I’m getting sick of having to eat shit which is what it’s like having to live under the national party government.

  2. He would be the only one in the whole country who could not remember what they thought of the tour let alone an opinion about it. I was 11 at the time and I knew what was happening and why.
    Its a very weak attempt at fence sitting so that Don Keyote doesnt have to upset anyone. But I can understand he was most likely looking in the mirror polishing his ego and making deals and chanting to himself “I will be king …will be king …. I am the king – now smile for the photo op!”

  3. It’s certainly sad to see the passing of someone who has meant so much to so many people. His humility is his marking characteristic. Even though the process may have been flawed, and the results have been less than savoury, the spirit of truth and reconciliation would have been impossible without Mandela. What I find truly appalling is not the mealy mouthed posturings of insignificant toadies like Key, but the fact that millions of South Africans are without adequate food, water or shelter; that hundreds of thousands of mine-workers are without effective unions; that for the hope and future of any nation, the children, there is little difference between the (South African) National Government and the ANC. Post-apartheid, the multi-national corporations that enjoyed the favour of Vorster et al and who took billions out of the country stained with the blood of its people, are still there doing business as usual. Political struggle is meaningless unless the backers of the system are rooted out. The ANC has no more moral high ground than any power-hungry incumbent. To quote from the painfully ironic Hunger Games, remember who the real enemy is.

  4. I look forward to Key attending.

    Imagine the look on his face when he is inevitably asked,

    “So, Mr Key, what did you do during the 1981 Tour? Which side were you on?”

    Let’s see him lie his way out of that one.

  5. I was seventeen years old at Lancaster Park, fighting for what was right, in 1981. If John Key cannot recall something so important begs the question to his mental health. It’s not the first time he’s had problems recalling important events. Is this a case of selective dementia? When he’s asked at the wake what side of the issue he was on, he’ll lie again. He sure isn’t going to say to the ANC that he can’t recall.

    • John Key’s “morals” are determined by convenience, nothing else. That man changes his behaviour and speeches as he sees fit, and flip flops are totally normal for him, as the rule of NZ under him and his party has shown in abundance.

      Do not expect anything principled from Key, as that is stuff he simply lacks and never will learn. The first principle to him is to advance business interest of the lobbyists, Nat Party supporters and his mates. Anything else is treated in a sense of convenience, on a case by case basis.

  6. “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is people who have made poverty and tolerated poverty, and it is people who will overcome it. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life”-Nelson Mandela.
    John Key is a poverty creator and that is another reason he would be an insult at Mandela’s funeral.

    • I disagree
      Poverty is the natural state for the human race. It is, however, our human instinct to extract ourselves out of that state.

      What barriers and what opportunities lie in front of us may not be in our control, however.

  7. Absolutely agree with this: send Bob Burgess, who refused to tour under the apartheid system and led the protest with great courage in Palmerston North. When I asked my daughter who was eight at the time what she remembered of the marches, she said,’Those guys spitting at us from the RSA on Broadway.’ Yep. Memories are made of this….

  8. Of course New Zealand should honour Nelson Mandela by sending our Prime Minister regardless of the political history of that party. It would be disrespectful not to send our PM. I remember Mandela’s great triumph engaging with the Springbok institution at the Jo’burg Rugby World Cup final in 1995. Mandela also shared a Noble prize with FW De Klerk whom had previously lead the apartheid regime while Mandela was in prison (certainly he is more culpable than Key). Mandela understood the symbolism of those actions and there is similar symbolism in the leader of NZ National party honouring him at his funeral.

    Mandela did not dwell on the passed or hold grudges like so many posting on this blog appear to do. He rose above all that. What a great human being Nelson Mandela was.


  9. One cannot help but think had Mandela remained in prison all his life and F W de Klerk had not agreed to abolish apartheid and hold free elections that David Cameron and John Key’s view on Mandela would be totally different. The Conservatives and National would have remained firm friends of The Apartheid white regime as they did faithfully endorse and support the South African National party’s nasty offensive inhuman racism. Although that is hypothetical scenario it does leave a sour taste that the leaders of two government (Key and Cameron)who represent political parties with a sordid history of supporting the racist government of South Africa.
    The stance of National during the reign of the National party of South Africa was extraordinary in that they willingly supported such an evil regime and did absolutely nothing to discourage the NZRFU from touring South Africa which led ultimately to the majority of African nations boycotting the 1976 Olympics. (Which should have shamed Muldoon unfortunately I think he wore at as badge of honour) Lets us not forget Muldoon’s cynicism and complete disregard for world opinion in allowing the 1981 tour to go ahead.
    The Thatcher government loathed Mandela and the ANC, she and members of her government often referred to Mandela as a terrorist and continued to support the racist government of South Africa without concern for the majority of South Africans who were disenfranchised and discriminated against.
    Now both Key and Cameron would argue that they were not members of those governments so will feel justified in attending Madiba’s funeral one can but help but feel that had the National Party of South Africa was still in power both the Tories and the Nats would be supportive and Mandela would have been allowed to rot in jail.
    It will also be galling that Key will use the funeral as a photo op and no doubt we will see pictures of Key with Obama, Cameron, Clinton, Prince Charles, Bono and other celebrities and world leaders and for a man that claim he doesn’t not recall his stance on the 1981 Tour, I’d suggest he doesn’t not have the emotional intelligence to comprehend the occasion other than to see it as a fantastic photo opportunity for his oversized ego.
    As leader of our country he will (and must) attend the funeral but he is so unfit

  10. Unlike our PM with his perpetually foggy brain, I can clearly remember which side I was on in 1981. The atmosphere in the tea room at work was so charged that no one dared mention the rugby in case a fight broke out. Muldoon’s legacy: NZers at each others’ throats.

    • I can remember which side I was on during the 1981 SA Tour and in fact from about the 1960s. However I wasn’t brave enough to join a protest march other than attend two meetings of protesters in Hamilton. I do think that our Governor General should go rather than the PM. I don’t know where he stood on the issue in 1981 but the occasion is worthy of his attendance. In fact a delegation of civic and Maori leaders sould accompany him.

  11. Anyone who ‘can’t remember’ how they felt about the ’81 Tour knows damn well that they were on the side that history condems as ignorant, selfish and insular. Key may not have wielded a baton, but if he didn’t care enough to get out there on the streets with the rest of us and look those Red Squad guys in the eye then he was enabling the violent racists in NZ and SA who saw themselves as supreme and couldn’t imagine how they would be seen in just a few years.

    Having said that, of course JK has to rep NZ – like it or not he is our PM and represents the democracy that Mandela and his generation of activists were so determined to achieve for SA.

    ckiwi, please note that Bomber didn’t say that Key shouldn’t go; just that it is a shame that he is our leader at this historic time. And BTW, I’m pretty sure nobody is going to argue that there is no political bias on this blogsite – it declares itself as a forum for left wing discussion.

    Let’s mourn Mandela and celebrate his spirit and achievements. We do also need to acknowledge, though, that SA still has much to over come and that the long walk to freedom must continue for the vast majority of its citizens.

  12. It’s a real shame Key can’t be as honest on this one as he was with Hugo Chavez’s death. The man is absolute scum and the sooner we wave goodbye to his sorry arse as it disappears back to Hawaii, the better.

    In the spirit that Mandela showed in South Africa, I’d be happy to be represented by John Minto and Ross Meurant.

  13. while i agree, all world leaders attending will be hypocrite – and when are they not – why are so many surprised and upset by this is politiks – Nelson Mandela if you noticed was friends with al the people the West – aka the US were enemies with – so every world leader who had called for Manadellas head will be there – will they be hypocritical – most probably – the reason that they are good politicians is because they can lie and feign interest when they have none – and each of those who did stand and fight against apartheid could go still …it doesn’t matter really the man was beyond the petty ness of politics

  14. not remembering 1981 would be like not remembering your 21st or your wedding. everyone old enough to remember 1981 will remember the vibes of division. anyone that can’t say where they stood is lying.

  15. The problem is, John Key happens to be Prime Minister, and there were enough people in New Zealand who thought he was “hot” and therefore voted for him and his party.

    Yes, I asked myself the question, how can John Key go there to attend a state funeral for Nelson Mandela, who his predecessors and other members within National called a “terrorist”.

    Would John Key have attended a funeral of Osama Bin Laden, had he managed to survive and stay in Afghanistan, and had he ever succeeded to become a “leader” there? I doubt it.

    Sorry for the blunt comparison, I am only trying to expose the hypocrisy of the National Party, John Key and others of that mindset.

    Yes, I think that it may be more appropriate to send the Governor General there, although I see issues with that man also. At least he is the formal head of state here.

    Surely John Minto and others should and likely will go there, and I support that.

    John Key is an embarrassment to this country, but again, there is close to half the voting public thinking he is “good”. That should really worry us, and it seems, in some ways, the anti tour protests in 1981 have not changed all that much in public perception, as much that has been “learned” is nothing but “token gestures”.

  16. This is the sad consequence of voting in a poxy toss-pot national Government. As PM, Key gets to wave at us from Sth Africa knowing full well anyone of those that took the fight at its hard end – faced the batons –
    THEY represent NZ here. Not John Key.

    He does not ‘remember’!? If he cannot REMEMBER,
    then he does not REPRESENT the NZ I saw in those days of rage.

    Nelson Mandela may well have found forgiveness for the hypocrite,
    but the irony of this moment wouldn’t be lost on him.

  17. It used to said by a previous generation that everyone could remember where they were when they first heard the news of John Kennedy’s assassination.

    Likewise, for our generation. Everyone can remember where we were when we heard of Princess Diana’s tragic death.

    These things stick in your mind because they are iconic events that stick in the collective consciousness.

    The same with the 1981 springbok tour.

    Everyone who was alive and at all cognisant at the time would be able to recall exactly where they stood during this iconic event in our country’s history.

    To say that you can’t recall is such an obvious lie.

    In the spirit of reconciliation that Nelson Mandela stood for….

    If John Key had the honesty to openly admit to his views at the time, and then say but I now hold such views to be mistaken. . Would entitle him to attend as a fitting representative of this country both dignity and humility, as befitting the occasion. .

    To bring closure to the apartheid era and give vindication to its victims without creating further rancor and blood letting, under Nelson Mandela’s leadership, the South African Government set up a Truth and Reconciliatio Commission.
    The principles of the truth and reconciliation commission were if you openly admitted to your crimes you were pardoned. If you refused to acknowledge your crimes, you were prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

  18. Let Mandela rest. It is appropriate to send our Prime Minister to honour him. Yes perhaps the NZ Governor General should go. And perhaps anti-apartheid campaigners from New Zealand should go also – what about the few people who ran the ANC New Zealand? – and no they were not Minto, Richards, Huata, Jackson, Sykes and so on who the media always call on – they were the ones who struggled for years here, long after the rugby games were over. They have remained very humble throughout all this.

    On the other hand who has the right to say who ‘deserves’ to weep and who does not… this seems petty minded and something Mandela undoubtedly would not have admired. At the end of the day – the less squabbling New Zealanders at his funeral the more room for his own countrymen and women to farewell him.

  19. I hope the forgiving spirit that Nelson Mandela so openly and frequently displayed is not forgotten by his supporters. Hate is something he would not want and I feel sad to see such negative unforgiving emotions demonstrated in these comments. Let us live his lessons not talk about them.

  20. “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is people who have made poverty and tolerated poverty, and it is people who will overcome it. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life”-Nelson Mandela.

    You can observe poverty in the lab when bacteria are placed in agar on a petri dish. Poverty is very natural.
    The Left don’t understand nature rather they use nature as a political gamut (we are Green all over).

    A degree of racism is natural also thanks to oxytoxin,the hormone that bonds a mother and baby as it also bonds people of the same ethnicity (I’m not sure where the radical left fit- racial masochist in group?).

    The whites saw the blacks as inferior and I can understand that as casting your eye around Africa it is hard to find a good role model African state. The left would counter by saying that is due to exploitation and capture of the wealth pointing to a Maori economy before it was dominated by whites.

    Apartheid was wrong (people should have equal rights) but as we have seen (finally) the Soviet block fell and today it is also deemed wrong.

    That brings me to the great victory roll of John Minto, Hone Harawira, Annette Sykes, Martin Bradbury…. and your Marxist (I presume it is) paradigm of how it all works.
    You had a point about apartheid and you are right that their is injustice today but you have an over simplistic notion of an identified evil (capitalism) and a good (the down trodden) that you overlook natural processes. You will just be deemed another wrong.

    As with the Maori economy the whites will get their comeuppance, we will see a NZ/Aotearoa dominated by Asians in the future and you will have helped by promoting diversity. We will be poorer because you support immigration (like the petri dish example above). Join a group of real estate investors on a tour. Look at the physical realities of how the bulk of the pryramid in Aotearoa/NZ will live (not Sue Bradfords house).

    • Spoken like a true determinist. Not only is social and political culture more complex than bacterial culture, but modelled on a different paradigm. If you compare the writing of Proudhon with Huxley, you’ll find that evidence based conclusions will outweigh doctrinally based ones. Huxley looked for evidence in nature to support his racist determinist theories. Proudhon looked at nature to see how it functioned and found self-organisation and intra-species co-operation. To say racism is deterministic is not only bad science, it’s wilfully ignorant mischief making.

    • You say the left don’t understand nature.
      I say the right confuse people with germs. This doesn’t surprise me, because your economic theories probably come from watching bacteria grow in a petri dish. We on the left like to think we can do a little better.

  21. Thank you Martyn for speaking out against the hypocrisy of National, with one man in particular, PM John Key!

    I remember those dark days in 1981 and knew which side I supported, even if John Key can’t and I’m much older than he is!

    I remember very well when I was ashamed to be a Kiwi, through the then National government’s pro tour attitude. Yet also at the same time, I remember being extremely proud of our nation’s very powerful stance against the ugliness of apartheid. I still believe the strong and enduring protests by John Minto, Trevor Richards et al, went some way towards addressing the apartheid issue in South Africa, possibly contributing to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison.

    Do you really think Key is going to Nelson Mandela’s funeral out of respect for the man? I think not. The PM is going, using the great Madiba’s farewell, as a means to promote himself, to be seen with the likely band of international movers and shakers attending, to suit his own sordid ends!

    Another shame brought down on NZ by a National government. This time through the self serving ego of PM John Key, who will go down in history as the worst PM NZ has ever had the misfortune to experience!

    RIP Mr Mandela. Your gentleness, love and humility will live on in the hearts and minds of generations to come.

  22. Firstly ; @ Stuart Munro . Please allow me to speak for Weasel kind and say that comparing jonky to Weasels is not having a clear understanding of the Weasel . Weasels are noble and family friendly . They are fluffy . They squeak . They would never sell out their own kind . They fit in and are a part of the wondrous puzzle that is our beautiful , holistic world .
    jonky is none of those things .

    Jonky is going to South Africa to mourn the passing of a man who spent 27 years in jail for his principles knowing that we have one of the highest incarceration rates in the world and most of those numbers are comprised of Maori , who as prisoners , are not able to vote . Hmmmm ?
    So , weasel you say ?

    • We understand what you are saying Countryboy, but since the title of snake was already well and truly claimed by Banks, so looks like weasel it was for Johnny. Though I always thought turKey would have been quite apt. But that’s just me, and I can’t talk being moose and all that.

    • Well if we’re going to be technical about we really shouldn’t impugn any of the animal kingdom.

      These days I’m coming to the conclusion that Key is really more like a layer of polyurethane varnish – superficially attractive and glossy, but with no depth whatsoever.

      Key has no ideas or principles of his own and could seem inoffensive except that the ideas he does choose to gloss over are consistently exploitive, inconsiderate and anti-democratic.

      My apologies to mustelidae everywhere.

  23. Let’s hope John Key will learn a little humility from attending the funeral of this great man. Mandela’s consistent message was to move on, forgive and reconcile, look to the future and leave the past behind. I cannot stand the hypocrisy of Key and think he is scummy for “forgetting” his stance in 1981 but I would like to think we can learn from Mandela and rise above it, look to unity and reconciliation at this opportunity. I think the divisive attitude demonstrated in this blog is dwelling on the past a little too much and represents some of the mistrust that prevents us from coming closer together. I hope Key will take the opportunity to reflect and find some compassion for his own people, especially the growing divisions here between rich and poor.

  24. Let him go and leave it be. John knows the truth and like the politicians from the apartheid era who supported it, he has to live with his truth…as we all do. If you are found lacking in defending your fellow human beings, years later it can come back to bite ya…so hope the lesson is learned National MPs who supported apartheid ( I realise one or two of you did’nt)

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