The National Party’s long tenure which had begun in 1960 came to an end in 1972. Jack Marshall was handed something of a hospital pass when long-serving Prime Minister Keith Holyoake stepped down in February 1972. The electorate had grown tired of National. Labour, led by the increasingly popular Norman Kirk (or ‘Big Norm’ as he became known because of his stature), went into the general election with the slogan, ‘It’s time’. And time it was: Labour won 55 seats to National’s 32. Shortly after taking office Kirk announced New Zealand’s diplomatic recognition of communist China as well as the withdrawal of New Zealand training teams from Vietnam, which brought to an end our involvement in this controversial war.
See video of a 1973 Gallery interview with Kirk on his first 250 days in office here.
The terrorist attack in which 11 members of the Israeli team were killed cast a long and dark shadow over the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. A few days earlier the New Zealand rowing eight achieved what remains one of New Zealand’s finest moments at the Olympic Games. Sports writer Joseph Romanos called the ‘emphatic’ victory ‘one of New Zealand’s all-time Olympic highlights’. The New Zealanders held off 11-time champions the United States for a three-second victory. ‘God defend New Zealand’ was played at an Olympic medal ceremony on its own for the first time (it had been played in 1952 when Yvette Williams won the long jump – but only after ‘God save the Queen’).
Broadsheet, a monthly feminist magazine produced in Auckland from 1972 to 1997 and sold throughout New Zealand, played an important part in women's activism. Reporting on everything from politics to art to sexuality to crime, the magazine was a forum in which women expressed a broad range of concerns. Māori issues were at times a particularly strong focus, provoking fierce exchanges in the letters pages. Broadsheet also reported on socio-economic class and the position of women in unions. This issue from June 1985 featured articles on the impact of GST (goods and services tax), Māori women and the Human Rights Commission, and bulimia.
Given the alcohol-fuelled antics of some modern, highly paid footballers, the actions of Keith Murdoch which saw him banished from the remainder of the 32-match tour of North America, the British Isles and France in December 1972 were almost a storm in a teacup. Hours earlier Murdoch had scored the All Blacks’ only try in a hard fought 19–16 victory over Wales at Cardiff Arms Park. After a night’s drinking the Otago prop was involved in a fracas in which he punched a security guard. Initially named in the team for the next tour match, Murdoch was then told he was being sent home. It was alleged that this decision followed the application of pressure on the New Zealand management team by the Rugby Union (the English RFU). Murdoch never made it home to New Zealand. His self-imposed exile in the Australian outback and refusal to discuss the incident have enlarged the significance of this moment in New Zealand sporting folklore.
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