Yet another anniversary of the 1981 Springbok tour is upon us and media coverage has been extensive but generally shallow. Most have taken a magazine-style approach with no shortage of dramatic pictures or film to illustrate – for example, see: Hamilton’s Rugby Park 1981 Springboks tour protest. But Nikki Macdonald has an interesting piece using individuals to present the various views from the conflict (Waging war on and off the pitch) and the Herald posed myself and red squad senior sergeant Ross Meurant as the protagonists as though this were a civil disturbance with the politicians and rugby union on the sidelines – see: Jared Savage and Andrew Stone’s The rugby tour that split us into two nations.
There were a few new revelations however. The Listener got access to police files from the tour and gave an interesting look at the issue from behind the police barricades (Redmer Yska: Inside the 1981 Springbok tour) and the aforementioned Ross Meurant gave an honest account of the lies he told to defend the police responsible for the infamous batoning of the clowns at the last game of the tour. It’s nice to have one’s prejudices confirmed even if it takes 30 years.
What has emerged more strongly this time was the fact the tour had a much greater impact on South Africa than any of us appreciated at the time. Chris Laidlaw points this out (see Karl du Fresne’s 1981 and all that) as does Springbok captain Wynard Claassen (Team of '81 coming 'to reconcile') and we will get more of this when the ’81 Boks come back for a reunion visit during the World Cup.
What’s missing is the most important story: the impact of the tour on New Zealand itself. At one level there is general feeling that the tour had an impact on our psyche and that we that we ‘grew up’ as a country. The provincial papers see this theme strongly with the Manawatu Evening Standard, for example, talking about a ‘cultural catharsis’. See: Michael Cummings’ Manawatu Standard editorial Thirty years since our cultural catharsis.
However the bigger story - the impact of the tour on race issues here in New Zealand is no-where to be found. I think this was profound and deserves a good bit of journalistic attention. For example the tour protests and aftermath gave a solid boost to Maori nationalism, best illustrated in the new powers for the Waitangi Tribunal to look at historical Treaty grievances. These changes would have taken a lot longer to come about without the tour.
And what about the politicians who benefitted from the tour? Meurant and myself agree on the cynical use of the tour for political gain by National under Muldoon. Where are the National MPs who benefitted from the tour by winning Gisborne, Invercargill, New Plymouth and Taupo in the first-past-the-post election at the end of 1981? Those were the four crucial marginal seats won by National on the basis they wanted to keep politics out of sport. Yeah right.
It’s good to see some writing, in this case by John Edmundson, looking at a current issue that will develop in the same way as the fight against apartheid in South Africa. It’s the call for BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israeli apartheid (See: Thirty years on: The 1981 Springbok tour and protest today). In 30 years time it will be hard to find anyone who was not on the side of the Palestinians.
There are always some personal stories, which more than anything bring the past alive in the present. Here are a couple that caught my eye: 30th Anniversary of the Springbok Tour and Peter Clayworth’s Days of Shame or days of rage? A personal memoir of the ’81 tour.
There is plenty of scope for good journalism yet in this issue. It’s not too late for anyone out there in the media this time. Let’s not wait for the 50th anniversary…
[Continue reading below for a full list of the highlights of NZ Politics Daily]
Below are the internet links to all the NZ politics material from the last 24 hours that are either informative, insightful, interesting or influential. This list and the links are taken from a fuller document, NZ Politics Daily, which is emailed out, Monday to Friday, to various researchers, academics, journalists, MPs and so forth. The document is purely for research purposes only, and if you would like to be on the subscription list, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Goff and SIS
Matthew Hooton (electionresults.co.nz): Goff safe as leader despite no credibility on SIS issue
Andrea Vance (Dom Post): Goff lashes out at SIS boss over Israeli briefing
Rebecca Wright (TV3): Goff and spy argue over Israeli investigation
Newstalk ZB: Questions raised over speed of OIA release
John Pagani: Why the SIS's partisan behavior matters
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The SIS Document
John Pagani: The SIS is doing awful damage
The Dim-Post: My impossible fantasy
Imperator Fish: Standing Firm
Adam Bennett and NZPA (NZH): Twelve named to pilot constitutional review
David Farrar (NZH): The importance of the constitutional refor
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): The Constitutional Advisory Panel
Tumeke!: Constitutional panel
Imperator Fish: New Zealand’s Next Top Constitution
No Right Turn: Moving (slowly) on the constitutional review
John Pagani: We don't need a 'written constitution'
Matthew Hooton (NBR): Labour must revisit candidate line-up [Not currently online]
Colin James (Management Magazine): Will Key still be cruising in a choppy second term?
John Pagani (Stuff): Making everyone join KiwiSaver?
Lloyd Burr (TV3): Goff and Key's election debate reluctance - Extended footage
Adam Bennett (NZH): No more jaw-jaw on Roy's student union
Ian Llewellyn (electionresults.co.nz): The Curious Case Of The Student Union Bill
Debbie Porteous (ODT): OUSA president retracts comments
Matthew Martin (Rotorua Daily Post): Rotorua's Annette Sykes in top Mana Party role
John Drinnan (NZH): Close Up 'plagiarism' reporter in dispute with TVNZ
Danya Levy (Stuff): Defence Force pays $1.5m to private guards
Tim O’Donoghue (Dom Post): Pinups go awry but honour is restored
Ian Llewellyn (electionresults.co.nz): A Focus on New Plymouth
Dom Post: Today in politics – Friday
1981 Springbok Tour – 30 year anniversary retrospective
Redmer Yska (Listener): Inside the 1981 Springbok tour
Dom Post: Hewson puts the boot in 1981 tour
Warwick Rasmussen (Manawatu Standard): Hard to imagine Bok tour turmoil now
Neil Reid (SST): Recalling that tour
Jared Savage and Andrew Stone (NZH): The rugby tour that split us into two nations
Jared Savage (NZH): Meurant hid clown-bashing cop
Michael Cummings (Manawatu Standard): Editorial: Thirty years since our cultural catharsis
Peter Fabricius (NZH): Team of '81 coming 'to reconcile'
Matthew Wright (Dom Post): A tour that let a divided society vent its anger [Not currently online]
Karl du Fresne: 1981 and all that
Megan Nicol Reed (SST): Monsters and rugby heads
Helen Rickerby (Te Ara: Signposts): Rugby, protest and poetry
John Edmundson (Workers Party): Thirty years on: The 1981 Springbok tour and protest today
Nikki MacDonald (Dom Post): The Springbok Tour – A nation torn apart
Jack Barlow (Dom Post): Captain of beleaguered Springboks looks back at 1981[Not currently online]
Michelle Duff (Dom Post): Memories of the 1987 World Cup final and a hot meat pie for sale [Not currently online]
The Daily Post: Remembering when rugby divided the country [Not currently online]
Peter Clayworth (Te Ara: Signposts): Days of shame or days of rage? A personal memoir of the ’81 tour
Philip Matthews (Press): Tour rage leaves a distant legacy [Not currently online]
Dianne Moore (Dom Post): The real enemy was apartheid and the lack of human rights [Not currently online]
Timaru Herald: Memories from the front line of a divisive battle [Not currently online]
Roarprawn: 30th Anniversary of the Springbok Tour