Unusual priest's story to be told

Last updated 05:00 15/08/2012
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COMING TO GRIPS: Expatriate New Zealander Father Michael Lapsley.

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The story of a New Zealand-born priest and activist Michael Lapsley, who lost both hands and an eye in a parcel-bombing incident, will come to Wellington this weekend.

Mr Lapsley was active in support of the liberation struggle and was critically injured in an assassination attempt by parcel bomb in Zimbabwe in 1990.

Since then he has dedicated himself to the reconciliation process and heads a trauma healing centre in Cape Town.

Two exhibitions of photos by Auckland photographer John Miller - entitled "Redeeming the Past - my Journey from Freedom Fighter to Healer" - will also show as part of the conference, to be held at Victoria University.

One, a tribute to the many New Zealanders who stood up for the struggles of the South African people, will depict two decades of activism in 100 black and white images. The other will focus on the 1981 Springbok Tour and show as a continuous loop of 300 colour slides.

The exhibitions, created by Wellington digital printer Out of the Box, have been supported by MFAT and the New Zealand Rugby Union.

The conference, "When Hope and History Rhyme" is part of an international  series of events to mark the centenary of the African National Congress.

Major figures from the history of New Zealand's fight against apartheid in South Africa are coming to Wellington to speak at the forthcoming ANC Centenary Conference at Victoria University this weekend.

M.A Stofile, now South Africa's ambassador to Germany, is the principal speaker. Mr Stofile visited New Zealand several times during the controversy over sporting contacts with apartheid South Africa, and was a key contact for the anti-apartheid movement over many years.

Mr Stofile initiated the apology to Maori rugby players for their exclusion from All Black tours to South Africa.
After the conference Mr Stofile will be hosted by the NZRU for an informal visit to Rugby HQ.

Other speakers include All Blacks and other sports people who refused to participate in apartheid sport - notably Bob Burgess, Graham Mourie and runner Anne Hare.

Organised as a contribution to mark the centenary of the African National Congress, the conference will be moderated by Trevor Richards, the original chairperson of HART, Halt All Racist Tours.

Sue Ryall, convenor of the organising committee, said the conference will be a unique opportunity to remember and explore a vital period in New Zealand's recent history.

"It's much more than a nostalgic journey down memory lane. We have people contributing from many viewpoints -political and cultural commentators, as well as the activists who led campaigns.

"The conference will be a living archive of a critical period which saw New Zealand split in two over the apartheid issue, in particular the contact with apartheid sport.

"The conflict also caused many New Zealanders to reflect deeply on our own racial and cultural issues and has been influential in the development of our politics since."

Local contributors to the conference include Peter Harris,  Ripeka Evans, Mike Law, Margaret Hayward, Russell Marshall, Ted Thomas, Geoff Chapple, Rosslyn Noonan and Jock Phillips.

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- The Dominion Post

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