Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University Students Association. Volume 40, Number 3. March 14, 1977.
How long can we go on like this?
How long can we go on like this?
The Halt all Racist Tours Movement is a mysterious animal and when 70 delegates gathered at Palmerston North for their annual bun-fight it appeared that the animal would stay that way. It was not an earth shattering conference by any means, but in a very loosely based organisation like Hart, it is necessary that the supporters get together regularly to fire themselves up for the coming months of abuse of struggle against 'public opinion' and, at times, open abuse.
Hart, considering the nature the dynamics of the organisation, has held together in fighting shape spectacularly well. The crucial question at the conference was, given the world situation, how long can it manage to do so? The conference began and we waited for an answer.
Helmsman Trevor Richards, just back from his African trip, opened the conference with his impressions of the attitude that African countries have towards our own little Tory's paradise in the South Pacific. The message was clear — the African nations are not the least bit impressed by the National Government's tow tier sporting policy. The sporting boycott of New Zealand, by the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (later moined by the Organisation of African Unity) was in fact never called off. The Africans can see better than most New Zealanders that Muldoon has a story for the local market and one for the overseas market.
The African, especially the Tanzanian and Nigerian, papers, carry regular stories on NZ sports bodies and their contact with their counterparts in South Africa.
Richards went on to assert, as had Russell Marshall MP at the Institute of Foriegn affairs early in the month, that New Zealand coupld prove to be one of the biggest strains on the Commonwealth (or what is left of it). It is strange that Muldoon should come out in favour of throwing Uganda out of the Commonwealth when it looks a distinct possibility that New Zealand could end up the same way. New Zealand's expulsion from the Commonwealth could be achieved quite easily given the power of the Third World countries in the Commonweath and their independant foreign policies.
In finishing his speech, Richards pointed to the implausible stance of the present Government by quoting the Minister of Recreation and Sport when he appeared on a talk-back programme. Highet's argument went something like "Africa will never be satisfied whatever we do". With logic like that, it's no little wonder that New Zealand has become the embarrassment that it is today.
After a little procedural wrangling and a decision to exclude the press from some sessions, the conference started proper. The reports from the five areas revealed that Hart is reasonably healthy everywhere except Auckland and Dunedin, the latter sending no delegates.
The main thrust of the conference was, not surprisingly, the sports campaign. While sport is undoubtably an effective means of isolating countries with unjust political systems, it was a disappointment that a majority of the delegates attending the conference saw the question of sport isolated from the overall struggle of oppressed groups in South Africa. This position has been brought about mainly by the avoidance of any overview of what exactly is happening in South Africa. Hart has strayed from the role of educating the New Zealand public to a certain extent. The insistence on the primacy of sporting ties may yet prove to be the achilles heel of the movement.
During the sport session, it was revealed that in the next few months New Zealand would participate in at least II sports tournaments to which South Africa had been invited or which South Africa was hosting. At this stage the conference livened up and many people spoke fervently on the necessity of stopping these tours. In particular, Tom Newhnam gave an excellent speech on the calculated abiguity of the Muldoon sports 'policy'. He pointed out that Hart and Care wished to stop the sporting boycoutt of New Zealand by making it unnecessary for the Africans to impose one, vis, severing sporting contacts with the racists. The ambiguity in the Muldoon policy (a distinct move away from the 1975 election policy) was designed primarily to confuse both New Zealanders and Africans, in order to appease the right wing sports bodies and his fascist South African friends. The implication was clear from Newhnam's speech — Hart must ensure that New Zealanders are not fooled by this double mounted policy, and must also press for the policy of discouraging ties to one of prohibiting them.
But does the New Zealand Government support racist sport? The answer is a definite yes. The exact methods were fully discussed along with the best possible methods to expose and attack the mechanisms. For example, tax-payers' money goes through the Ministry of Rec. and Sport to fund Sports bodies which send teams to South Africa or who arrange to bring them to New Zealand. The Government pays a full salary to any State Servant who tours South Africa in a New Zealand team.
Details of coming tours were examined to plan tactics and to ensure that racist teams are given maximum publicity. This is an area in which Hart has excelled in the past.
Several sporting exchanges will take place between South Africa and New Zealand in the coming months (see separate section below)
The squash tour is all the more interesting as it is obviously a compensation offered by the NZ National Organisation for the exclusion of SA from the World Championships. The World Squash Federation's president is a New Zealander, and it is he who is promoting the tour. He mistakenly boasted all this to a Hart member, plus the fact that he is having them to stay at his house when they arrive at his home town.
Shortly after, the conference passed a remit declaring that the sporting issue be the top priority of Hart. The Waikato Area Officer was apparently worried that the movement was being fractionated by dabbling in issues such as those of liberation movements. This was the first mention of the perennial problem of Hart.
The fact that Hart is not a conventional organisation in that it has no 'members' and no constitution. How then can policy be binding on Hart branches. To take a quick example — the Anti Apartheid movement in Wellington has branched out into examining in detail the structure of Apartheid as an economic and political system. But to do this they found that membership was necessary. However, in other parts of New Zealand, membership is not felt necessary and accordingly the aims are also slightly different.
This is the nature of the beast. Not enough people are willing enough to radically alter the structure and aims and so the beast goes on unchanged. It still functions but is increasing showing its age.
A remit for a membership structure was heavily defeated. An annual occurence.
To finish the first day, the National Anti Apartheid Committee presented its report for the year. Although NAAC is completely autonomous from Hart, it fills the gap which Hart does not deal with — that is, the economic base of apartheid and a liason with liberation groups in Southern Africa. NAAC are organising a large Anti Apartheid conference in November of this year at which many of the issues which were neglected at the Hart conference should be given a thorough and well needed airing.
The chairing of the sessions were so good, the chairs on most occassions being old hands, that the conference completed its business on time, about lunchtime Sunday. We went through the quickest set of elections I have ever observed. The leadership has effectively not changed at all. The only personnel change was the resurfacing of Mike Freeman into the position of Secretary.
And so it ended, the result being a comparatively painless get-together by Anti Apartheid activists.
It will be an active year for Hart in 1977. For bigots it will be more of the same from the bastard Richards and his band of traitors. For Hart supporters, the struggle to give New Zealand an international perspective and to force a change in foreign policy will continue.