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Race Relations Commissioner pays tribute to Tom Newnham


17 December 2010
 
Race Relations Commissioner pays tribute to Tom Newnham


Anti-racism campaigner Tom Newnham, who died yesterday at the age of 84,  was an outstanding New Zealander whose impact stretched from New Zealand to South Africa, China and the United Nations, says Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres.

“Tom was a great educationalist, a prolific writer and a tireless campaigner for race relations and human rights over the past 50 years”, says Mr de Bres.

While perhaps best known for his anti-apartheid campaigning as Secretary of the Citizens Association for Racial Equality (CARE) for seven years, he was also a strong advocate for other race relations and human rights issues. This included prison and court reform, Māori language promotion, Māori land rights, the treatment of Pacific overstayers, tenancy rights, and Māori and Pacific educational achievement. 

Mr de Bres said he worked with Tom in the Citizens’ Association for Racial Equality in the 1970s and took over from him as Secretary of CARE when Tom left for a sojourn in the United Kingdom.

“Tom was always encouraging and enthusiastic, and above all cheerful despite the nature of the injustices he was seeking to put to rights. He has good cause to be satisfied with the success of any of his campaigns.”

Mr de Bres said he would be commemorating Tom Newnham’s contribution to race relations and human rights at a lunchtime function at Massey University today. The function has been arranged to celebrate the apologies from the South African and New Zealand rugby unions for the exclusion of Māori All Blacks from rugby tours to South Africa under apartheid, and the decision of the South African Rugby Union announced last week to clear the way for a tour of South Africa by the New Zealand Māori team.

“I can think of no better occasion on which to pay tribute to Tom’s lifelong contribution to race relations, which started with the ‘No Māoris No Tour’ campaign in 1960.”

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