9 Dec 2013

Sharples attending Mandela memorial

9:05 am on 9 December 2013

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is travelling to South Africa as part of a New Zealand delegation attending a memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

Pita Sharples.

Pita Sharples. Photo: MAORI PARTY

South Africa's first black president, who inspired millions as he led his country of the apartheid era, died on Thursday aged 95.

International leaders and global figures will join 95,000 ordinary South Africans at the memorial service at a Soweto stadium where Nelson Mandela made his final major public appearance during the 2010 football World Cup.

Prime Minister John Key will lead the New Zealand delegation of current and former senior politicians and diplomats.

Dr Sharples says when he was fighting for Maori rights in the past, he was personally inspired by Nelson Mandela.

He says building urban marae was a big battle and when the first kura kaupapa was built he received death threats.

But Pita Sharples says despite the messages of hate, he protested against Springbok tour of 1981.