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Eyes of the rugby world on NZ: 30 years ago and today

Press Release – Ministry For Culture And Heritage

The eyes of the rugby loving world will be fixed on New Zealand in September 2011 when the All Blacks play Tonga in the opening game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup at Eden Park. Almost 30 years ago to the day the eyes of the world were on the same …
Media release
28 July 2011-07-27
NZHistory.net.nz/Ministry for Culture and Heritage
Eyes of the rugby world on New Zealand: 30 years ago and today

The eyes of the rugby loving world will be fixed on New Zealand in September 2011 when the All Blacks play Tonga in the opening game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup at Eden Park. Almost 30 years ago to the day the eyes of the world were on the same venue – but for very different reasons. The controversial Springbok tour of 1981 was reaching its climax with the decisive third test. That day the streets around Eden Park resembled a war zone as anti-tour protesters fought with police while flour and smoke bombs were dropped on the pitch from a Cessna aircraft. Now, weeks out from a tournament that will unite the country it is worth examining a time when it divided the nation in an unprecedented fashion.

NZHistory, http://www.nzhistory.net.nz, New Zealand’s leading online history resource, has a comprehensive feature on the ’81 tour outlining the events of 56 pivotal days in New Zealand’s history. Written by historian Steve Watters, the feature provides the background to this tour and the wider issue of sporting ties with South Africa during the apartheid era. It includes a tour diary charting the most significant games and protests of the tour, plus a media gallery with extensive pictures and videos offering a window to the atmosphere, politics and emotion of the time.

Human rights and the national sport collided to create one of New Zealand’s most significant historical turning points; for 56 days in July, August and September 1981, New Zealanders were divided against each other in the largest civil disturbance seen since the 1951 waterfront dispute. More than 150,000 people took part in over 200 demonstrations in 28 centres, and 1500 were charged with offences stemming from these protests.

You can follow the dramatic story and events of the 1981 Springbok tour on NZHistory, significant dates include the ‘Molesworth St’ protests in Wellington which erupted in violence on July 29:

http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/video/clash-on-molesworth-street-springbok-tour
School students made their feelings known about the tour too:

http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/school-kids-protesting

The second test held in Wellington’s Athletic Park on August 29 also created major havoc with with 700 protestors blocking access to Athletic Park on the day of the match. During the third and final test held in Auckland on September 12 ‘all hell broke loose’ as flour and smoke bombs dropped from the sky:

http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/video/the-third-test-auckland

ENDS

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