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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 7. 19 April 1972

Hart Tatics

page 3

Hart Tatics

Photo of two shackled wrists

This article is not written for those who are still unsure [unclear: as] to whether sporting contacts with South Africa are right [unclear: or] wrong. It most certainly is not for those who somehow [unclear: have] managed to rationalize the issues out of their ambit of [unclear: concern]. It is written for those who have already decided [unclear: that] sporting contacts with South Africa are wrong, and, [unclear: who] furthermore believe that something should be done to [unclear: ensure] that they do not continue.

Two years ago H.A.R.T. was formed in an effort to give [unclear: the] anti-tour movement coordination, strategy and tactics. [unclear: In] the early months of July 1969, eleven months before the [unclear: tour], we adopted a strategy framework which was to last [unclear: until] the last day of March of this year. The initial strategy [unclear: adopted] was very simple: the fate of the proposed All Black [unclear: our,] and others like it, would depend upon our ability to [unclear: show] to those in a position to stop the tour(s) the complete [unclear: indefensibility] of any sporting contacts between this [unclear: country] and South Africa. We believed, for better or for [unclear: worse], that both the New Zealand Rugby Football Union [unclear: and] the New Zealand Government were ammenable to, and [unclear: likely] to be influenced by reason.

Reading back over documents such as this has a chilling effect. H.A.R.T. was so optimistic about the odds. Given the rightness of our cause, the impeccable credentials of those who supported us, the enthusiasm of our many supporters, it seemed that it could all be over in six months. It was the World War I situation all over again. The Bosh would be defeated in no time at all, and everyone would home in time for Christmas. The early reversals were considered as no more than mild irritations which would be quickly overcome. But as it became [unclear: clearer] as the months progressed that this was going to be no push over, and that we were in for a long, protracted, and at times bitter battle, there was still no serious consideration given to the proposition that our strategy might be [unclear: worng]. Our only reaction was to step up our activities—a '[unclear: move on the] same' attitude held sway.

Trevor Richards marching with other members of HART

Yet, despite our efforts, on June 13, 1970, an Air New Zealand Electra jet took off from Rongotai with a team of New Zealand rugby footballers bound for South Africa. We had failed to stop the tour.

We lost, because we had played the game according to the rules. We had blindly accepted the rhetoric of the rules without examining their substance. Unless they are completely stupid, and I am charitable enough to believe that they are not, both Government and the NZRFU knew that the 1970 All Black tour was wrong. They failed to stop it for a variety of reasons, a lack of any real concern for the victims of apartheid being paramount amongst those reasons. It could also be fairly stated that in many instances those who were in a position to stop the tour were guilty of nothing less than a white racist approach to the whole question. Dennis Brutus is convinced that despite the magnificent campaign, we failed to stop the All Black tour . . . because of the powerful commercial and political interests who were convinced that the links should be maintained—and not merely for sporting reasons.'

What then were we to do? Violence was out—it is abhorrent, and furthermore, it is the one thing the New Zealand power elite know how to handle better than anything else. The obvious weapon seemed to be militant non-violent disruption. It was this tactic which resulted in the cancellation of the proposed Springboks Cricket tour of Britain. It is a tactic which appeals to self-interest and not to reason. Given that it is self-interest rather than reason which motivates our politicians and sporting administrators, and given the success of the tactic in Britain, it seemed to H.A.R.T. that here was an ideal strategy to adopt.

What then does militant non-violent disruption mean? Obviously H.A.R.T. can only speak in the most general terms when it comes to discussing this matter. No sense in tipping off the men in blue. Make Gilbert's salvation army work for their crust. Besides, as is clearly stated in the pledges which are currently circulating, the exact form of action taken is not decided by me, or by your local area officer, or even by H.A.R.T.'s national council. The decision as to what action will be taken, and when it will be terminated, is taken by those prepared to involve themselves in this activity. One of the ideas which has gained some currency and publicity is that people will chain themselves together in the middle of the playing field and refuse to move. The theory is that it would be very hard to remove 250 demonstrators chained together on a playing field—especially if one of the chains was attached to a permanent fixture i.e. a goal post, hockey goal etc.

Since our announcement, on the 31st of March, that H.A.R.T. intended to do all possible to non-violently disrupt all sports fixtures in which a South African team took part, we have continued to do everything possible to establish a dialogue with sporting bodies. The situation as it stands at the moment is that no sporting association currently involved in arranging contacts with South Africa will speak to us. The N.Z.R.F.U. would not allow us to address their annual meeting. We are interested in nothing but rugby' a prominent rugby official told me when asked why we could not enter the meeting.

The situation is similar with other sporting bodies. The N.Z. Womens Hockey Association has informed us that 'we do not wish to have any further correspondence on this matter.' Bodies such as the N.Z. Bowling Assn, the N.Z. Cricket Council refuse to even bother answering our letters.

H.A.R.T. feels that we cannot dare wash our hands and say 'there is nothing I can do.' We cannot close our eyes to a possibility which is open to us. Robert Kennedy, in a talk given in South Africa in 1966, summed it up:

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.

Every time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.

Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.

For us, responsibility and effectiveness are both equitable in this instance to pursuing a policy of militant non-violent disruption. Only time will tell.

Trevor Richards

National Chairman, Halt all Racist Tours