National ideals or national interest: New Zealand and South Africa, 1981-1994
“National ideals or National Interest?” examines the making and implementation by successive New Zealand governments of policy toward apartheid South Africa from 1981 to 1994. Its main focus is the contradictory relationship between living up to New Zealand’s ideals against doing what was practicable in the context of the time. The dilemma the apartheid state faced, in trying to solve its internal problems while not imperilling its external security was often not appreciated by the New Zealand government. These misconceptions helped shape New Zealand policy. Ironically once the South African regime began to investigate the possibilities of some sort of political transformation, their New Zealand counterparts were less willing to empathise with the risks involved with such an undertaking than they had been in the 1960s and 1970s. “National Ideals’ also examines the role of civil society and what was often a parallel unofficial foreign policy based around these person -to - person contacts, including the problems posed for the government by the need to persuade groups such as the NZRFU to follow government policy without overstepping what were strongly entrenched principles of individual freedom. The conflicts within the two main political parties of New Zealand were also important in shaping policy, as was the adversarial relationship between the major parties. “National Ideals” concluded that more often than not interests came first and indeed that at times policy decisions often to the product of accident and intrigue.