After chipping away at New Zealand public opinion in the ’50s, the Communist Party had a major success with their racial agenda in 1959/60
the New Zealand Citizens’ All Black Tour Association (CABTA) was formed in September 1959 “to combat racial discrimination in the selection of the 1960 rugby team to tour South Africa…”
The NZ Rugby Union had announced in 1958 that it would send an All Black team to tour South Africa in 1960. In June 1959 it was confirmed that the team going to South Africa would be all white and include no Maori players. CABTA circulated a nation-wide petition to protest the exclusion of Maori players.
Using slogans like “Good enough to wear army boots in North Africa, but not football boots in South Africa” and of course “No Maoris, No Tour” the campaign rightly gathered widespread public support.
The campaign was fronted by “respectables” like Wellington surgeon and Labour Party member, Rolland O’Regan and Maori Battalion hero Peta Awatere (fathers of Tipene O’Regan and Donna Awatere respectively), Public Service Association general secretary and Ngai Tahu leader, Frank Winter, General Assembly librarian Geoff Alley (brother of Communist Rewi Alley) and leftist writer, Bill Pearson.
Leftist former Waikato University academic James Ritchie, has stated that “the CABTA campaign in the late 1950s bonded an unprecedented unity between communists, Roman Catholics, Maori and Pakeha in a common purpose, namely, to stop all racist rugby tours.”
The Communist Party was not just part of the mix, it was the driving force behind the campaign.
At least six members of the Auckland CABTA executive were CPNZ members or sympathisers and in Wellington, comrades Paul Potiki, Chip Bailey and a young Ken Douglas did much of the donkey work.
In fact, it was the CABTA campaign which convinced Ken Douglas to actually commit himself to the Party.
The pattern was repeated all over the country.
While over 150,000 New Zealanders signed a petition opposing the tour, it still went ahead.
However the Communist Party was happy. Their campaign had focussed attention on South Africa’s racial injustices and also highlighted domestic “racism.”
To many liberal minded Kiwis, the problems of our Maori population had become far more significant.
“Racism“, thanks to the Communist Party, was now a New Zealand issue.