Archbishop Desmond Tutu – Friend of Aotearoa New Zealand and Champion of Palestinian human rights – dies aged 90


Palestine has lost a champion of the struggle against Israeli apartheid with the death today of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, aged 90.

Tutu is known internationally as a leader of the struggle against while minority rule in South Africa and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work reconciling South Africans after the end of its brutal apartheid regime.

He was the moral conscience of the country and sometimes highly critical of South Africa’s ANC-led government saying that some in the ANC leadership had stopped the apartheid gravy train “just long enough to jump on”.


Relationship with New Zealand

Archbishop Tutu was a warm friend of New Zealand and many New Zealanders across our political divides will feel a deep sadness at his passing.

In the early 1980s when Tutu faced court action from the South African authorities, a delegation of church leaders from New Zealand, led by former Anglican Archbishop of Aotearoa New Zealand, the late Sir Paul Reeves, went to South Africa in an act of international solidarity. This was deeply appreciated by Tutu.

During the protests against the 1981 Springbok tour one of the three Auckland protests squads was called Tutu Squad in his honour.

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Later he came to New Zealand and at one point gave evidence as an expert witness on apartheid during a trial arising from 1981 tour protests. Such was his charisma, his mana and the deep respect he commanded everywhere that when he was called to the witness stand by Hone Harawira the entire courtroom stood.

In this case all the activists on trial were acquitted after the jury deliberated.

PSNA National Chair meeting Tutu in South Africa in 2009

Support for Palestinians 

Tutu was outspoken against injustices all around the world and in particular he condemned the racist policies faced by Palestinians from the Israeli regime. He frequently described Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “worse” than that suffered by black South Africans.

He said international solidarity with Palestinians such as through BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is critical to ending injustices like apartheid.

“I have witnessed the racially segregated roads and housing in the Holy Land that reminded me so much of the conditions we experienced in South Africa under apartheid,” said Tutu.

“We could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through… non-violent means, such as boycotts and disinvestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime”

In relation to Israeli policies towards Palestinians Tutu said the world should “Call it apartheid and boycott!”

In honouring Tutu’s legacy, freedom-loving people around the world should follow his advice and spurn Israel till everyone living in historic Palestine has equal rights.

Aotearoa New Zealand, the Palestinian struggle and the world have lost a dear friend and a great humanitarian.



  1. A great loss of a gentle man with great mana. I was privileged to meet this man when he came to Aotearoa in the eighties.

  2. good innings, he seemed to be genuinely nice person concerned with reconciliation not revenge, if only there were more like him.

  3. Well said John. If someone else, apart from Mandela who had a similar position, had said what Tutu said on Palestine Zionists would call them anti-Semitic.

  4. There is a very good obituary in stuff Tuesday Dec.28/21 to him, the Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. A forceful character as I see him, very clear-eyed, holding his force in check for positive ends, to express it in words and control of violence. Also he could analyse and explain his own behaviour even if he felt he was doing God’s or Jesus’ work. That’s both humble and strong, forthright.

    In 1981 we rebelled here against the rugby tour, seemingly innocuous, but a sufficient number of people to break the class complacency here. In 1984 we had Treasury overturning ideas that Roger Douglas had for assisting the country to advance carrying poor people upwards, so a move to free those at the low income and education level of society. Coincidentally, in South Africa a liberation movement was building in 1984 for that purpose. Did that tour protest help facilitate action in South Africa for freedom, but also galvanise the wealthy here and those looking to invest and syphon to take control and maintain market opportunities?

    • Who is wallowing in what swamp? Could you please explain?
      It seems all the contributors prior to yourself have been full of praise for the strength, courage, wit and humility of Desmond Tutu. It seems “….decent bloke popping his clogs ….” has been the only demeaning and disrespectful comment that has been made so far.

    • Why did you wallow in your usual swamp then.? Until you came up with, “decent bloke popping his clogs’, a backhanded insult of the first order, commentors had been expressing their admiration of an outstanding humanitarian. Bishop Tutu stood tall, unlike his detractors.

  5. gagarin He was more than just a decent bloke, he was outstanding, and didn’t waste much time criticising others because they didn’t follow the copybook, he wrote the book anew. He saw clear-eyed that if he was a young man he probably wouldn’t follow the advice being given by one older; that was transcendent of him and shows what a big encompassing intellect he had. Please don’t let us start making jibes at each other while we should be learning from his ways.

  6. Thank-you John Minto for acknowledging the passing of this truly great man in this forum. In the death of Desmond Tutu we have lost a significant influencer for peace, always respectful, cheerful, and hopeful although battling overwhelming odds.

    • Unlike you, Bishop Tutu was neither a racist nor anti-semite, apart from in you wildly prejudiced and disrespectful rant. Being a truth teller he was not a liar. You, on the other, hand are the one who lies continuously about Israel – just as can be expected of any rabid propagandist.
      Re your earlier retort, it is taken to mean you are laying claim to being a bigger, brighter smellier shit that Sam. Probably true!

      • We’re well acquainted with your scatalogical fetishes on these threads, aom…and your transparent lies about Israel.

        • Gaby likes likes leaders such as Bolsanaro, Bennet / netanyahoo or even Meir Kahane …

          The interesting and largely forgotten history of Desmond Tutu and the springbok tour is told more fully here
          ” Harawira still laughs at the memory of the stunned faces of the judge, prosecution and jury as as the now-Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in his signature dark suit and purple cleric’s shirt, walked into the courtroom.

          “And then I’m thinking, ‘What the fuck, now what do I do?’

          “So he takes the stand and I go, ‘Could you please tell the court your name?’ And then I said, ‘Can you please tell the court your address?’ And he gave an address in Soweto. Instantly, if the room wasn’t already charged, everyone was completely wide-eyed now.

          “And then I said, ‘Can you please explain to the court what apartheid is?’. And away he went. He must have spoken for 20 minutes. It was absolutely stunning. You could have heard a pin drop.”

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