The 1970s

Page 3 – 1970 - key events

'Honorary whites'

The issue of rugby contact with South Africa would dog New Zealand throughout the 1970s. Prior to 1970 Māori players were excluded from All Black sides touring South Africa because of that country’s unwritten (and later written) policies of racial segregation. In 1960 more than 150,000 New Zealanders signed a petition opposing that year’s tour – still one of the largest petitions in our history. Māori players were selected for the 1970 All Blacks tour but had to visit South Africa as ‘honorary whites’. Many felt this was no improvement and condemned the NZRFU for agreeing to these terms. Others argued that sport and politics should remain separate. The All Blacks lost the series 3–1 after being defeated 20–17 in the final test.

'Save Manapouri'

The 1960s had ended with major protests over plans to raise the level of Fiordland’s Lake Manapōuri to create sufficient hydro-electric power for a new aluminum smelter at Tīwai Point, Bluff. In May 1970 the Save Manapouri campaign presented New Zealand’s then largest-ever petition to Parliament. It contained some 260,000 signatures – nearly 10% of the population. Following its victory in the 1972 general election, Labour passed legislation protecting the natural level of the lake.

Death of Bruce McLaren

Motor-racing driver and designer Bruce McLaren, 32, died in June while testing one of his Can-Am series cars on the Goodwood circuit near Chichester, England. McLaren had become the youngest Grand Prix winner in 1959 with victory in the United States. During his Formula One career he won four races and placed in the first three 27 times. He was runner-up in the Formula One world championship in 1960. His abilities as an analyst, engineer and manager contributed much to the success of the cars that still bear his name today. The McLaren Racing Team he established in 1963 has been one of the most successful in Formula One championship history, with its drivers including stars such as Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Anti-war protesters greet US Vice-President

United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s visit to New Zealand in January sparked violent confrontations outside his hotel between anti-Vietnam War demonstrators and police. Many protesters and some media accused the police of over-reacting to the demonstrations.

The presence of a high-ranking American politician was bound to attract the attention of New Zealand’s strong anti-war movement. The protests attracted widespread media attention here and in the United States. Agnew told reporters that he didn’t think the demonstrators were ‘really worth a great deal of comment’.

Other 1970 events

  • Four men were killed in February when part of the western end of the Kaimai rail tunnel collapsed during its construction. It took three days to rescue the seven survivors.
  • The killing of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe at Pukekawa, Waikato, sparked one of the greatest ‘whodunnits’ in New Zealand criminal history.
  • The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child was founded by pioneering New Zealand foetal surgeon Professor Sir William Liley.
  • John Rowles’ single, ‘Cheryl Moana Marie’, hit number 1 here and sold a million copies worldwide.
  • John Glasgow and Peter Gough became the first mountaineers to scale the 2000-m Caroline Face of Aoraki/Mt Cook.
  • The supreme awards in the Loxene Golden Disc Awards were won by Craig Scott with ‘Let’s get a little sentimental’ and Hogsnort Rupert with their hit, ‘Pretty girl’.
  • Ngā Tamatoa (The Young Warriors) was formed by Māori students at the University of Auckland. Taking its lead from liberation struggles overseas, it was one of several new groups that questioned racial politics in New Zealand.
  • Sylvia Potts fell just metres from the finish line with the women’s 1500-m gold medal seemingly in her grasp at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games.
  • Pirate station Radio Hauraki was finally awarded a licence, ending its four-year struggle with the state broadcasting system.

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How to cite this page

'1970 - key events', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 9-May-2018

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Posted: 01 Jun 2020

Sell a empty bottle of drink for 2c to buy bubble gum or love heart lollies


Posted: 01 Feb 2020

John Rowles’ single, ‘Cheryl Moana Marie’, hit number 1 here and sold a million copies worldwide.

Ahh, no it didn't. Not even a fraction of that.


Posted: 16 Apr 2019

In `1970 at the Levin racetrack a new ice cream arrived:the sundowner.It was a price pioneer:$20c


Posted: 22 Sep 2017

IN the early 1970's Labour Govt offered 2% mortgages through State Advances for young families building or buying first homes.
I remember thinking that $36 mortgage payment was pretty steep, just over half my pay packet -and with Kindergarten fees ($15)pw we had to be very careful with our grocery shopping.
times were tough with two children, one car and husband working as a chippy on our house so we could have it finished in time before winter and cutting down the labour cost for the builder and the tradies.