The day after attending a fiery public debate (see video above) over Africa's threatened boycotts of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, Abraham Ordia, then-president of the African Council of Sport, sat down for a more subdued interview with Gordon Dryden. Ordia had arrived in New Zealand that week, hoping to convince Robert Muldoon to limit sporting contacts with apartheid South Africa. The PM refused to see him. Ordia recalls his Nigerian childhood, studying psychiatry in Zurich under Carl Jung, and makes a final plea to the viewer’s conscience on the issue at hand.
On June 4 1976, Gordon Dryden hosted Abraham Ordia — president of the African Supreme Council of Sport — for a public forum on New Zealand’s sporting ties with apartheid South Africa, which would result in an Olympic boycott by African countries the following month. The debate erupted into what the Auckland Star called “a diabolic confrontation between Māori and Pākeha”, with Dryden frequently pleading for civility. Weightlifter Precious McKenzie, MP Richard Prebble, activist Syd Jackson and Donna Awatere-Huata are among those in the audience, making their feelings known.
This episode of rugby series The Game Of Our Lives looks at the impact the sport has had on race relations in New Zealand. The country's history of rugby forging bonds between Māori and Pākehā is a stark contrast to South Africa's apartheid policy. Tries and Penalties focuses on the troubles between Aotearoa and South Africa — from coloured players George Nepia and Ranji Wilson being excluded from All Blacks tours to South Africa, to the infamous 1981 Springboks tour, and Nelson Mandela opening the 1995 Rugby World Cup final between the two teams.
Hosted by broadcaster Gordon Dryden, and screening on the second television channel, The Friday Conference aimed to be a public discussion forum as Dryden quizzed newsmakers of the day in-depth. In 1977 it shifted to Thursday nights. It was the first New Zealand current affairs programme to regularly use studio audiences. Notable interviewees included Prime Minister Robert Muldoon and Abraham Ordia, president of Africa's Supreme Council for Sport (who helped spur the African boycott of the 1976 Olympics, over the All Blacks touring apartheid South Africa).
From a career in print journalism and public relations that began in his teens, Gordon Dryden became a familiar face on New Zealand television in the mid 70s. Earning himself a reputation as a tough interviewer, Dryden hosted coverage of the 1975 election before presenting Friday Conference. A 1991 TV series on education would lead to book The Learning Revolution, which sold in the millions.