Mandela service honours Kiwis' stand on racism
New Zealand's anti-apartheid movement was acknowledged yesterday at Christchurch's civic memorial service for South African leader Nelson Mandela.
The former South African president, anti-apartheid leader and Nobel Peace prize winner died on December 5, aged 95.
Hundreds gathered in Christchurch's Transitional Cathedral yesterday evening to farewell Mandela, and to celebrate his life.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson, Waimakariri MP Kate Wilkinson and former South African honorary consul to New Zealand Gregory Fortuin were among the speakers.
Dalziel quoted Mandela, who once said: "When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace."
"Mandela inspired a nation, inspired the world and he has earned his right to now rest in peace," Dalziel said.
Dyson said she was "very proud to be a part of the huge number of New Zealanders" who stood up against the apartheid regime and believed excluding Maori from rugby tours of South Africa was wrong."What we faced here in New Zealand was nothing compared to what [Mandela] faced . . . but still, prisoners shook their cell bars to thank us."
She said New Zealanders even felt good about losing the 1995 Rugby World Cup because of the "joy on Mandela's face".
South African High Commissioner to New Zealand, Zodwa Lallie, arrived for the service late because of a delayed flight and said her iPad, containing her speech, had been left behind.
"But today, I think that's good because it gives me the opportunity to speak from the heart."
She said that despite being a small country, New Zealand had always concerned itself with the interests of the South African people.
"You are a rich country and many rich countries don't concern themselves with the problems of other people . . . but you did."
It was "very gratifying" to know that South Africans living in New Zealand were not "grieving alone and not celebrating alone".
"You didn't come here today out of shared politeness. Many people have been touched by Nelson Mandela and hold his promise that tomorrow will be better than yesterday."