The end of the Vietnam War shifted the focus of the Cold War away from Asia and New Zealand's need for ‘forward defence’ diminished. These changes, together with the anti-Vietnam War movement, ushered in a new era of debate about Cold War policies and New Zealand’s place in the world.
Following police warnings of civil strife, Prime Minister Norman Kirk informed the New Zealand Rugby Football Union that the government saw ‘no alternative’ to a postponement of the planned tour by the South African Springboks.
In 1967 protestors laid a protest wreath in Christchurch on Anzac Day to highlight their opposition to the Vietnam War. They were subsequently convicted of disorderly behaviour. A decade later further controversy arose when a women's group laid a wreath in memory of women killed and raped in war. During the 1980s other activist groups – feminists, gays, Māori and peace activists – all used Anzac Day services to seek publicity for their cause. Some ex-servicemen and politicians also used Anzac Day ceremonies to speak out during the anti-nuclear debate of the 1980s.