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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 14. 1964.

NZUSA At The Crossroads

NZUSA At The Crossroads

New Zealand Silhouette

NZUSA is at the Crossroads. The time has come to discard its outdated apolitical philosophy. During: the last 18 months there have been stirrings of unrest amongst many students—a disillusionment and frustration among students over the attitude and achievements of NZUSA. In this period, under the leadership of Michael Moriarty, a hopeful change of direction and an increase in activity has been noticeable.

But the International Student Conference has given New Zealand students, particularly those in Christchurch, an electric shock. Students are realising that they require of NZUSA not only action on such things as bonded bursaries and travel concessions—and victory in this latter field may soon be ours—but they also want NZUSA to fulfill its obligations and make its contribution to New Zealand society and the international community. Through such leadership by NZUSA each individual student would be able to participate and contribute in both fields.


The ISC has shown us the new path which will enable students to fulfil their role as a "conscience of society." It has shown us that the old apolitical path of concern only for matters affecting "students as such" is but an overgrown track of past history—a track that ISC left in the middle of the last decade.

It is probably unnecessary for me to comment on the valuable work that the International Student Conference has done and will continue to do. The activities of the organisation are well known—the numerous seminars on various subjects relating to student needs (university reform, higher education, African unity, community development. Asian regional co-operation, anti-illiteracy campaigns, work camps, scholarships and general education assistance to refugees and many other projects).

Ric's Work Valuable

Need I also mention the valuable studies in various countries undertaken by the Research and Information Commission (RIO)? Its work and the resolutions and letters of protest based on them have secured the reiease of political prisoners and have influenced delegations at the United Nations, as well as providing reliable information about situations facing other students in the international student community. This information has enabled students from all parts of the world to make their own contributions to a better society in their own and other countries.

It is clearly against our interests and our responsibilities to stand aloof from the international student movement and the attitudes and undertakings which It involves. The president of NZUSA. Michael Moriarty, has stressed the Importance to New Zealand students of participation in the ISC because of this country's comparative isolation.

It is this isolation and its effects on the basis of our attitude and thinking that pinpoints the major lesson given by the conference. It highlights the most significant contribution which I believe New Zealand students can make to our society. This relates to our relationship with the people of Asia and the Pacific.

Linked with Asia

When the New Zealand delegates returned early this year from the Third Asian Regional Cooperation Seminar for students, they stated in their report that "there can be no doubt that New Zealand's future is inextricably linked with Asia." Not that this was a revolutionary statement. But It only emphasises something about which people have been saying as much as they have been doing little.

At the ISC New Zealand was accepted as part of the Asian region. I say "accepted" because, let's face it, the "genuine" Asians don't have much need for us. At least not nearly as much as we have for them. It is only through our participation in the Asian region and through co-operation with Asians that we were able to fully participate in the conference.

I suggest that time will show that not only is the future of New Zealand and New Zealanders linked economically, socially, politically and strategically with Asia but it is only through cooperation and sincere desire to understand Asian viewpoints that New Zealand will be able to take a full part in international activity.

What is of direct importance to New Zealand students is that they are now one of the 11 members of the supervision committee of the ISC which directs the ISC programme during the next two years. They are on this committee as the representatives of South-East Asia. Accordingly, they have a two-fold responsibility; to find out and understand Asian viewpoints and attitudes and to represent them at the committee.

Responsibility as Well as Need

New Zealand students have thus an immediate and urgent need to understand the region in which they live and the attitudes of their people. But we also have the same responsibility to members of society—for this is a fundamental problem of our society.

A recent editorial in the Dominion stressed the importance to New Zealanders of a vastly greater knowledge of Asia and Asians.

"Every day that near north of ours comes nearer."

New Zealand students should be taking a lead in this movement. We should ensure that our education system is re-orientated to meet these national needs, and we should be determined that the Government takes an enlightened and sympathetic stand on matters which are important to the people of Asia and tne Pacific.

Strong Line on Racialism

In particular, we, through NZUSA, should urge a strong line on all matters of racialism—whether they be in Southern Rhodesia, the United States, South Africa, Fiji or New Zealand. New Zealand's immigration policy and philosophy are matters which should be of immediate concern.

New Zealand students could well give support to such a scheme as Sached, which provides scholarships for African students from South Africa, and at the same time follow the example of NUAUS (Australia) and conduct an anti-apartheid campaign. Another move we could consider supporting is that towards the establishment of a university in Fiji.

Earlier this year, Jyoti Singh, then administrative secretary of the co-ordinating secretariat of the ISC, said that ISC was "at the crossroads in its existence." He believed that ISC "will not turn back. It will face the crossroads with courage and with purpose, and will go forward, avoiding the by-ways of formal adherence to outdated traditions . . ." Let us hope that NZUSA will likewise go forward, avoiding such by-ways and be not only sound in safeguarding the material interests of students, but also lead students forward with concern to the realms of the national and international communities.