11 Dec 2013

Cunliffe sees Mandela's work as unfinished

11:50 am on 11 December 2013

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe says Nelson Mandela's legacy in making South Africa a fair and just society is unfinished business.

A sign on a bus leaving the service.

A sign on a bus leaving the service. Photo: AFP

Mr Cunliffe was part of the official New Zealand delegation led by Prime Minister John Key to Mr Mandela's memorial service in Johannesburg. He told Morning Report it was an incredible experience.

President Jacob Zuma was roundly booed by South Africans at the service.

Mr Cunliffe said there are still gaps between South Africans to be closed, unemployment to be dealt with, and opportunies to be created.

Mr Cunliffe said he much enjoyed the company of National Party members of the delegation Jim Bolger and Sir Don McKinnon who reminisced about their encounters with Mr Mandela.

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples told Morning Report he was surrounded by a who's who of international heads of state who all mixed and mingled, putting aside their political differences.

He said it was sensational and inspirational.

Dr Sharples said he was looking forward to a private viewing of Mr Mandela, when he can pay his respects in a more personal way.

Mandela Memorial planned for Rugby Park Hamilton

Those involved in the 1981 Springbok Tour protests are hoping to hold a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at Rugby Park in Hamilton.

Rugby Park was the venue for the Springbok's match against Waikato which was stopped after anti-apartheid protesters invaded the field

It was televised live in South Africa.

The memorial is planned for Sunday when Mr Mandela will be buried in his home town of Qunu.

John Minto who helped lead the protests, says the location is significant because the abandoned match brought such joy and jubilation to Mr Mandela who by then had spent 17 years imprisoned on Robben Island.

He says as people now know, when Mr Mandela and his fellow prisoners heard the game had been stopped, they gripped the bars of their cell doors and rattled them in sheer delight.

Mr Minto says Mr Mandela later described the event as like the sun coming out.

He says talks are underway for authorised access to the ground in contrast to what happened in 1981.