Story: Africa and New Zealand
Apart from familial relationships with other former British colonies, New Zealand has had few connections with Africa. The strongest tie, with South Africa – mainly through rugby – was the cause of great tension in the second half of the 20th century due to South Africa’s race laws.
Full story by Megan Cook
Main image: Nelson Mandela at Ngāruawāhia, 1995
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New Zealand’s relationship with Africa in the 2000s
In the early 2000s New Zealand did not have strong relationships with countries in Africa. There was not much trade between Africa and New Zealand, and not many New Zealanders visited Africa. New Zealand had only two embassies in the continent, one in South Africa and the other in Egypt. New Zealand interacted with African countries through the United Nations, through sporting contact and through aid.
Relationships in the 1800s
In the 1800s Britain had made many African countries part of its empire, as New Zealand was. Ships often sailed to and from New Zealand via the Cape of Good Hope, allowing people to travel between New Zealand and South Africa. A few New Zealanders went to Africa as missionaries.
South African War
Between 1899 and1902 New Zealand troops went to South Africa to fight in a war between Britain and the Boer republics. After the war, the British and Boer states joined to become the Union of South Africa. In 1907 New Zealand Prime Minister Joseph Ward was one of the few to object to South Africa allowing only white people to vote, as part of the Act of Union passed by the British Parliament.
New Zealand and South Africa have a long history of playing sport against each other. Because of South Africa’s race laws, New Zealand rugby teams generally excluded Māori players until 1970.
During the First World War (1914–18) and the Second World War (1939–45) some New Zealand soldiers were based in North Africa.
After the Second World War many African countries that had been European colonies became independent. They all became members of the United Nations and many joined the Commonwealth. In 1961 South Africa resigned from the Commonwealth and Rhodesia was expelled in 1965.
In 1948 South Africa introduced apartheid – a system of racial segregation. The United Nations made resolutions that South Africa should end race discrimination and that other countries should end their relationships with South Africa. New Zealand continued to play rugby against South Africa, which made other countries, and many New Zealanders, angry. Apartheid ended in the early 1990s.
Migration to New Zealand
Most migrants from Africa are white, and mainly from South Africa. Refugees have come to New Zealand from a number of African countries where there have been wars.