Why Was Gleneagles Agreement Made

Historian Jock Phillips explains Muldoon`s attitude to the values of the men of his generation. They had grown up in depression and wars. They were a strong believer in the British Commonwealth and the role of New Zealand men in armed conflict, and rugby was at the heart of that culture. His emphasis on physical strength and teamwork made him perfect for war. Muldoon himself was a war veteran, as was seven members of his first cabinet. The so-called Rob`s Mob – older, man, worker, often provincial, New Zealand – supported this prospect. Commonwealth countries, which include peoples of different races, colours, languages and beliefs, have long recognized prejudice and discrimination as a dangerous disease and a unmovable disease and are required to do everything in their power to promote human dignity everywhere. At their meeting in London, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed that apartheid, in sport as in other areas, is an abomination and is directly contrary to the principles of the Commonwealth Declaration they made in Singapore on 22 January 1971. In 1977, Muldoon joined the Gleneagles Agreement, a pact between Commonwealth leaders, to prevent sports contact with South Africa, which at the time had an apartheid policy – a separate development for its black and white citizens. In 1981, however, he refused to prevent a highly controversial tour of New Zealand for the Springbok rugby team in South Africa. This cartoon by Peter Bromhead deplores the resulting damage to New Zealand`s international reputation. Despite Gleneagles, Robert Muldoon has made it clear that the government will not allow any political interference in sport. In September 1980, the NZRFU gave the go-ahead and invited South Africans to tour the following year.

Deputy Prime Minister Brian Talboys has written to NZRFU President Ces Blazey expressing concern that a tour is being considered. Such contact would be seen as a tolerance of apartheid and would affect “the way New Zealand is judged on the international stage.” Muldoon said he could “see nothing but trouble,” but when faced with the decision to cancel the tour, he talked about “our kith and our family” in South Africa and the fact that New Zealanders and South Africans served side by side during World War II. He repeated his mantra that New Zealand was a free and democratic country and that “politics should stay out of sport.” Talboys pointed out that the government had done everything in its power, without coercion, to stop the tour.

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