Address by President Nelson Mandela at State Dinner hosted by Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Catherine Tizard

15 November 1995

Your Excellency, Dame Catherine Tizard
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank Your Excellency as well as the Government and the people of New Zealand for the hospitality accorded me and my delegation during this visit.

I had the privilege of visiting a few of your cities and addressing business and interest groups on developments in South Africa. Wherever I went, I felt as if I was among citizens of my own country.

The people of New Zealand played a critical role in the international campaign against apartheid. I wish to express our gratitude for that generous support.

The inauguration of the Government of National Unity in May last year marked a profound and fundamental break with the past. It opened the way for re-building our nation and our country on the basis of democracy, justice and a better life for all.

This has thrown up enormous challenges. Years of apartheid rule have bequeathed a frightening legacy of poverty, illiteracy and social disintegration. But we have, in South Africa's people, a determined and creative nation, united in the effort to eradicate these socials ills.

Only a few days ago, we held our first democratic local government elections, an important step in the democratisation of our country. In these elections, the people not only expressed their confidence in the government. They also took their destiny into their own hands, to share responsibility in the massive reconstruction effort our country is undertaking.

Your Excellency;

The implementation of our Reconstruction and Development Programme relies primarily on the mobilisation of domestic resources. Thus we are encouraged by the healthy signs of economic growth that South Africa is starting to experience.

But we know too well, that in our interdependent world, there is little that we can achieve without joining hands with friends such as New Zealand in trade, investment, scientific co-operation and other ventures.

Such co-operation will also benefit Southern Africa as a whole. In our sub-continent, a partnership in politics, economics and other areas of human endeavour is taking root. Southern Africa, at last liberated from the destabilising effects of apartheid, is at peace with itself, and ready to tackle the problems that really matter. South Africa is an equal and proud partner in this effort.

Along with our neighbours, we are committed to promoting world peace, human rights, democracy, development and equitable interstate relations.

In this regard, the issues of disarmament, in general, and nuclear proliferation, in particular, are among the major questions on our nation's agenda. We are therefore as perplexed and as distressed as the people of New Zealand at the flagrant disregard for the understanding reached earlier this year at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. We are of the firm view that the recent nuclear tests are retrogressive, unhelpful and unwarranted.

Your Excellency;

The relations between our two nations derive from this adherence to principle as well as the great opportunities for co-operation in such fields as trade and investments, education, sport, science and technology. The foundations for such co-operation have already been laid; and we are encouraged that our visit has cemented the bond between us.

Given the many things we share, including climate, geographic location and passion for sports, relations between New Zealand and South Africa can only grow from strength to strength. And you can be assured of our support as you set out to resolve the issue of the conditions and claims of New Zealand's indigenous community.

We leave your shores, in a few hours, inspired by the love and warmth that we felt in your midst. And we shall tell our people, back home, that, in New Zealand, we have friends in need and friends indeed.

Thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation