Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

31 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Springbok Rugby Tour Protests

In 1981 South Africa's Springboks came to New Zealand to play our All Blacks at rugby union. Two nations devoted to the sport, but two nations with vastly different racial attitudes. The South Africans classified our Maori as black and so, with apartheid the order of their day, our Maori were not accepted in the Union.

Consequently anti-racial protesters in New Zealand wanted nothing to do with the Springboks; they protested strongly against the 1981 tour and in time honoured fashion daubed their 'Subvert The Tour' slogans on other people's property. New Zealanders who wanted nothing to do with anti-race protest but just wanted to see some games of rugby between two highly competitive teams took their turn with similarly vandalistic graffiti 'Support The Tour'. 

Slogans such as these appeared up and down the country. The ones in my illustrations were on roadside sheds quite close to each other on the main highway near Warkworth; still visible six years after the event.

History finally had its say: apartheid fizzled and now the Springboks and All Blacks compete with mixed race teams. It's drawings like mine that will remind us of a different time not so long ago.


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By Don Donovan