South Africa pledges support to Maori ABs

South Africa is prepared to apologise to Maori for their exclusion from rugby tours of the country and says the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) should join them.

In a letter to the Sunday News, South Africa's minister of sport and recreation the Reverend Makhenkesi Arnold Stofile said the wrongs of the past must be righted.

"An apology to those who were victims of racial discrimination is in order," Stofile wrote.

"This cannot harm anyone who genuinely accepts that racial prejudice was an injustice then as it still is an injustice now."

Stofile said the NZRU should also apologise to those who missed out on All Blacks tours to the republic in 1928, 1949 and 1960 because of their race.

"I do believe that both the NZRU and SARU [South African Rugby Union] should apologise for the folly of those who came before them. We cannot be expected to simply forget where we come from and the pain it caused many people."

NZRU Maori Board chairman Wayne Peters said the NZRU board considered the matter twice. It decided in the centenary year of Maori rugby it was better to focus on celebrations rather than political issues from the past.

"The position of the Maori board is clear... that in 2010 we are focused on the future, rather than the past."

- NZPA

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