How the nastiest bits of history have a way of reinventing themselves


With the All Blacks Vs Springboks World Rugby Cup final just a few days away its worthwhile remembering the torrid history of rugby clashes between ourselves and the “Boks” and how the nastiest bits of history have ways of reinventing themselves in different places at different times.

Through most of the 20th century Black South Africans were in a desperate struggle against South Africa’s apartheid system whereby white South Africans – about 18% of the population – ran the country while black South Africans were denied civil, political and even the most basic of human rights.

Their role according to South Africa’s white leadership was simply to act as a source of cheap labour for white industries. There was a biblical dimension as well with white South Africa’s Dutch Reformed Church declaring blacks were meant by God to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water” – manual labourers in other words. To justify denying them the vote blacks were not deemed to be citizens of South Africa but rather were citizens of a tribal homeland or “Bantustan”. There were 13 Bantustans making up a small portion of the total land area of South Africa where the white government established puppet regimes which were disowned by the vast majority of blacks.

Resistance movements were formed through which Black, Coloured and Asian South Africans fought for equal rights with whites. The ANC (African National Congress) and the PAC (Pan Africanist Congress) were the leading organisations although both were condemned as “terrorist” and “communist” by the white regime. The ANC and PAC organised campaigns of non-violent protest and civil disobedience which were important in uniting the black population in the struggle.

When these were met with violent and brutal state repression, both groups took up arms as part of their fight for freedom. The turning point was the Sharpeville massacre of 21 March 1960 when 69 blacks taking part in a protest outside the Sharpeville Police Station in South Africa were gunned down, most killed as they were fleeing the scene in panic.

Faced with a hugely powerful South African police and military, the liberation movements called for international support in the form of boycotts of white South Africa until blacks were given equal rights.

New Zealand’s most important links with South Africa were rugby clashes with the Springboks which both countries saw as the centrepiece of their sporting worlds.

Campaigning to sever those rugby links was a huge challenge. The New Zealand Rugby Union was adamant tours to and from South Africa would continue while successive governments, while making disapproving noises about apartheid, stood with white South Africa and refused to apply effective pressure either on South Africa or our rugby union.

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It was left to “the people” to take action. And we did. Mass protests built up over two decades and culminated in the massive demonstrations and disruption of the 1981 Springbok tour to New Zealand. It was a tour which led to bitter conflict and division and which proceeded only with enormous state resources with the police and army using “batons and barbed wire” to try to quell the protests.

The proudest moment for the movement was in forcing the cancellation of the Springboks Vs Waikato game in Hamilton when 300 protestors broke on to the field and prevented the game starting while the war hero pilot Pat McQuarrie flew his plane towards the ground in an aerial protest. By that stage Nelson Mandela had been in prison for 16 years. He said that when the prisoners on Robben Island heard a rugby game with the Springboks had been stopped by anti-apartheid protests the prisoners were jubilant. He said they grabbed the bars of their cell doors and rattled them around the prison. He said it was like the sun came out.

Today we are confronted with another situation of appalling human rights abuses which is also centred on apartheid policies. All major international human rights groups, such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have declared Israel to be an apartheid state in its discrimination and oppression of Palestinians. The largest and most respected human rights group in Israel, B’Tselem, has described Israel as “a regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea”.

Like black South Africans Palestinians have taken up armed struggle for their freedom during 75 years living under Israeli military occupation. And unsurprisingly Palestinian civil society groups, like black South Africans, have called for international support through BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel. Palestinians also need outside pressure for democratic change.

And just as they did in failing to hold white South Africa to account, our political leaders are showing similar cowardly behaviour when they are asked to hold Israel to account for its apartheid policies, its flagrant breaches of international law and United Nations resolutions.

As I write this the news has come in that the death toll from Israel’s latest bombardment of Gaza has reached over 5,700 with at least 2,500 children killed. Repeated appeals have been made to our outgoing and incoming governments to call for a ceasefire in Gaza but Chris Hipkins and Christopher Luxon are unmoved. They are miserable cowards.

They have both condemned the attack in which Israeli civilians were killed but haven’t said a word about the wholesale slaughter of Palestinians civilians in Gaza. They haven’t condemned the war crimes of Israel including “collective punishment” of Gazans via the stranglehold on food, water, electricity and fuel. Our leaders wear their racism on their sleeves.

As was the case with South Africa, the heavy lifting is being done by the people of New Zealand with our third national day of rallies and marches around the country this weekend. We are demanding our lily-livered leaders call for a ceasefire. So far they have called for a “humanitarian pause” – in other words a tea break till Israel renews its slaughter of civilians.

Our media have also been appalling as I’ve written about before. The anti-Palestinian racism is hard-baked into our newsrooms with wall to wall coverage of Israeli leaders from Eurocentric news reporters who are breathlessly waiting for Israel’s ground offensive to begin. If the victims were European children as in Ukraine the reporting would be inverted.

We must condemn any killing of civilians as war crimes under the Fourth Geneva Convention and we must also condemn Israeli war crimes such as “collective punishment” of civilians in Gaza for the crimes of the few – also a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

So what should a decent, independent government do in response to the Gaza war?

We must call for an immediate ceasefire with a massive humanitarian effort to support the people of Gaza, including United Nation protection. We must also insist on an immediate and well-resourced investigation by the International Criminal Court into war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the crimes of genocide and apartheid.

Apartheid was ended in South Africa and it can be ended in Israel too. The one thing we do know is that there will never be peace for Israel or Palestinians until Palestinians are seen as equal human beings and enjoy equal rights. And that won’t happen until there is intense outside pressure alongside the struggle within historic Palestine.

We can enjoy this weekend’s World Rugby Cup final against the Springboks now and we should also look forward to enjoying contact and competition with a united country across historic Palestine where everyone, irrespective of ethnicity, culture or religion, has the same equal rights.

But that will only come through BDS (Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel.


  1. Absolutely John. They don’t teach history anymore. Its white-washing empire revisionist bs and the Mels & GenZ have been indoctrinated with the Global Empire(s) Revisionism by the Globalisation of everything.

    The Sanctioned Ethnic Cleansing, Holocaust, and Genocide of the Palestinians is approved by Murder Inc., aka the United States of America, Israel the EU and other Western nations, financially, Militarily and immorally.

    Civilisation as we know it is dead. The NeoCons and Capitalists have won. It is their way or Armageddon.

    The naval blockade in the Med is nothing else but good old-fashioned ‘Gun Boat Diplomacy’.

    So, History does repeat itself for us all to learn from. But do we?

  2. Oh, and there’s another key difference between South Africa and this: the ANC and related groups of oppressed Blacks didn’t kill a thousand unarmed men, woman and children. I think if they had your anti-apartheid protests would have been still-born.

    Interesting that you can say that the 21 March 1960 Sharpsville massacre in 1960 was a turning point but you can’t see that October 7, 2023 was also one.

    • Theasus, apartheid Israel is definitely different to the previous apartheid state!! Your venerated state has murdered, raped, and pillaged much much more than apartheid SA. I always wondered why you bigoted NZ pakehas have this lust for fascism but than its in your DNA.

    • “kill a thousand unarmed men, woman and children.”

      Well, that’s what you’ve been told and what you have believed without questioning it. Time will tell if it is accurate.

      The trick in all conflict and war is not to believe a word of anything anybody says without question or verification, and verification can often take years before it is revealed.

    • Hey, numbnuts. Israel is the occupying (illegally) people. They are open to being attacked because they are the ‘occupiers and therefore can be repelled by the occupied! Under International Law it is lawful for Hamas, and or Palestinians the ‘occupied’ peoples to act.
      FFS! Is NZ full of dumbfucks or what!

      I’ll answer that for the dummies. Yes.

      • The only “occupied” land that is in dispute is that of the West Bank and the Golan Heights.

        The places where these attacks happened was on land that almost every nation in the world, both individually and via the UN, has declared to be part of Israel for 75 years.

        If you want to argue with that take it up with the UN, that pro-Zionist entity that’s also officially condemned Israel more than any nation on the planet.

        Or go shift Poland back 100km east, plus other correcting “occupied” areas of the planet, and then get back to me about this particular “injustice”.

    • @gaby – that’s such a compelling and detailed argument you’ve presented, full of nuance and giving such a depth of understanding you may have just convinced me of your point of view

    • You don’t read the whole epistle gaby so how would you know what the end of the story is. You and your fellow travellers, all rarked up, sit at the sidelines and cheer on the lions tearing at the slaves.

    • So…? @ gaby. You’re ‘ending the story’. Does that mean you have no intention of inviting discourse, debate, challenging opinions or different points of view? Your deciding to ‘end the story’ is clear evidence that so long as this story or any others which disagrees with your point of view should quietly as we acquiesce to you then stand down and shut up.
      That sounds like apartheid which is what the Israeli’s have been doing by way of profiting the U$A Military Industrial Complex by antaganising and murdering the First Nation people of Palestine. Your comment further suggests to me that, given the facts, this is only the beginning of the story to which you dominantly and arrogantly suggest is over, done and complete. How dare you? How dare you insult our collective intelligence and moralities like that. It must be a cultural thing.

      • I lived in apartheid SA. Did you? I’ve been to Israel. There’s is no, repeat NO apartheid in Israel. Come on give me proof. You can’t. Where are the Jews in Gaza? Where are the Jews in PA areas? None. We know where the apartheid is.

        • I do feel for you Gaby you lived in a country where the 25 million blacks were shoved to the sideline until the world got to its feet.

          Do you now live here, if so that is a real shame, you should have stayed in SA to help re-build the country.

          So if some people are not permitted if they are Palestinians to do some things in Israel where they live is that not apartheid, you know the 65 laws that discriminate against Palestinians. I have pointed this out to you before, do you deny this do tell.

          You know what Goldie Meyer said ‘after the Holocaust the Jews can do anything’ the guilt by Western nations is what has allowed these 75 years to go by without addressing the issue.

          if find it enormously sad that the victims are now doing the victimisation.

  3. Just as New Zealand’s 1981 anti-Apartheid protests were effective because they had the Springbok to aim at, so to do protests in support of Palestinians need to have a clear focus to aim at. Worse than Apartheid, Zionism is an evil more akin to “Aryanism”, the anti-Semitic Nazi cult that spawned the Holocaust. Based on a similarly contrived pseudo-messianic ethnic-elitist pretext, which “sanctified” genocide being waged to seize “living space” for Germans in foreign lands, so too does the cult of Zionism “justify” genocide in Palestine. Accordingly it’s those whose daily rituals sanctify Zionism’s evil who should be the focus of our outrage and they are the bought-and-paid-for bishops of bullshit – the Media.


    These 2 articles and the content could be read by all to gain a greater insight into what happened on October 7th.
    Instead the world has been fed, and still is, a diet of grotesque lies to dehumanise Palestinians and enable a genocide to be perpetrated upon all Gazans with the ultimate aim of committing Al Nakba no2.
    Our country has followed the “leader” for too long and our cowardice will have been noted by many in the world, over our silence on the holocaust being carried out on the men, women, children and babies of Gaza.
    Religious Zionism is not Judaism, one is exclusive and the other inclusive.
    I do not know how far the fascism of the Israel/US/UK/EU and Western lackey cabal is prepared to go but one thing is for sure no peace will come from this and the state of Israel will not survive unless they banish the evil that is Religious Zionism for the love and inclusivism of Judaism.
    David Ben Gurion and the leaders after him were and are Religious Zionists who have all participated in the ultimate goal of genocide and ethnic cleansing of all Palestinian muslims and christians. This was always a primary aim and with it the land grab which is as crude and abhorrent as it sounds.
    Many wonder how can a people who have survived pogroms and a holocaust commit such brutality on another people and perhaps therein lies the reason why. Their past forced a reaction away from Judaism to Religious Zionism as a survival strategy but as many non-Zionist Jews proclaim strongly “not in our name.”
    The West Bank is also suffering more than the usual horrors of military occupation since October 7th and the arming of Religious Zionist settlers, who are in some cases stocked with private arsenals already and backed by the IDF, are murdering and wounding Palestinians with impunity.
    We are one misstep away from WW3 and I have no confidence in any Western leader least of all
    the avowed Religious Zionist Joseph Robinette Biden jnr.

  5. I’m just a poor simple farm boy.
    I was and still am ashamed of my country, or more narrowly it’s leaders at the time, for their despicable compliance with and de facto support of, apartheid, when they / we excluded Maori players from AB teams to SA in the 60s. Lets be honest and call it closet apartheid by NZ.
    Protests that changed this, were noble and worthwhile; there wasn’t a need to bring any convoluted politics into it, simple concern with shared humanity, equality, decency, provided ample motivation to oppose obvious wrong and (sorry in advance if I’m going off the non-secularist reservation here) evil.
    The case trying to be made in this article is debateable. Islam – a creed that seeks dominance; justifies barbarities against unbelievers; theocratic so ordinary people adherents or otherwise get no say; “Palestine will be free etc” sounds like eradicate Israel, not like a 2 state solution.
    I was sure Israel was finished in 1967 as Nasser made war preparations and promised, with Arab neighbours, to eradicate it. It had only existed since 1947; my mother spent the war in Java prison camp so I had and have sympathy for the holocaust narrative, and the need for Jews to have a land where they are safe. After 20 years this seedling faced destruction but it stood up for itself against unjustified aggression and survived.
    There’s more to the story than this comparison with apartheid.

  6. Mintei, asked my wains, what the best bet, not a gambler, yet those square heads. How now human borders our age diffrence stand, how you going John, our Socialist World Knowing.

  7. When Hamas were first elected, I read a statement by a leading Hamas Leader, he said that they didn’t care what the new state would be called if apartheid was abolished in Israel. Call it Israel, call it Palestine, call it whatever you like, as long as Palestinians have equal rights with Jews Hamas would be satisfied.
    Included in Hamas’ demand for equal right for Palestinians was the Hamas demand for the ‘Right of Return’ for the millions of Palestinian refugees and their families driven out of Israel since 1948. A demand that Hamas, (Unlike the Palestinian Authority), has never given up. The Zionists who rule Israel have deliberately conflated Hamas demand for the ‘Right of Return’ of the Palestinian refugees, as the destruction of the ethnic Jewish State. Which is true, because Israel would no longer be the apartheid racist theocracy that it is today. The Zionist propagandists have further conflated this fact into, ‘Hamas want to eliminate all Jews’, ie commit genocide against Jewish Israelis.

    Be careful John, calling for the end of apartheid in Israel will be conflated as you wanting to kill all Jews.

  8. A Textbook Case of Genocide
    Israel has been explicit about what it’s carrying out in Gaza. Why isn’t the world listening?

    Raz Segal
    October 13, 2023

    …..Under international law, the crime of genocide is defined by “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such,” as noted in the December 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In its murderous attack on Gaza, Israel has loudly proclaimed this intent. Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant declared it in no uncertain terms on October 9th: “We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we will act accordingly.”

  9. I don’t think there is any way Palestine and Israel can co-exist. But in that case I would have to support the Palestinians, because they declined further Jewish immigration in the 20s and 30s via riots — so, equally unright in manner. So, Israel must meet Palestine on equal terms. The latter having righteousness, the former, Yank money and time.

  10. Bryan Williams and Sid Going inspired more Afrikaans speaking white South Africans to reject apartheid than all the anti apartheid protests put together.
    Sorry to burst your bubble.


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