Topic: Nelson Mandela

Mandela's impact on Māori leaders

By Te Kāea

Nelson Mandela was an icon to many who struggled against oppression.

The anti-apartheid hero and his work touched the lives of many people across the world.

His visit to NZ in 1995 especially had a huge influence on the minds and dreams of some of our own Māori leaders.

In 1995, while serving as the President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela made his only visit to NZ. 

He was welcomed on to Tūrangawaewae Marae flanked by the then Minister of Māori Affairs, Koro Wetere.  The pair spoke of the commonalities between Māori and black South Africans. 

Koro Wetere remembers, "One thing he may have observed about Māori in this country is how determined we are to preserve our traditional customs."

Minister of Māori Affairs Pita Sharples was thanked personally by Mandela for his role in the anti-apartheid Springbok tour protests, and noted, "He retained his compassion for whites, for his oppressors."

Hone Harawira, a man never to shy away from adversity, says his motivation to be heard and make change has been inspired by Nelson Mandela.

To him, "He was like Jesus.  He didn't have an evil bone in his body, he was a very compassionate man."

So it seems Mandela played an instrumental role in the minds of these Māori leaders.