July, thirty years ago the Springboks came to New Zealand. My then husband and I had a sheep and cattle farm in the Takitimu Mountains in Northern Southland. That’s the heartland. You can’t get anymore heartland than Northern Southland. People there were, and still are, rugby mad, me included. To me, the whole sad mess was never about the rugby. It was all about other things: ignorance, paucity of mind and poverty of spirit. The average age of the farming population then, before the southern dairy boom, was quite high, around 45 I guess. And archconservative. I did not support the Springbok tour. As far as I knew, I was in a minority of one. I was physically attacked in the pub by a six foot, thirty-something, Christ's College educated neighbour for voicing my support for the ANC and their request that the tour be cancelled. Let me tell you, money and a privileged education are no guarantee of an open mind. If there is anything more repellent in this world than a hick with money and influence, I don’t want to know what it is. With hindsight it was foolhardy to voice such views in such a time and place, but, I was 18 in 1981. My husband brought members of the Red Squad to our house to drink beer and revel in their tales of brutality. I was forced to feed them, serve them beer and suffer their pumped up contempt for people with views like mine. It was humiliating. Taking a stand against the Springbok tour damaged me socially. I paid a price for it locally for most of my twenties. I was pleased when we left the district in my thirties for a new farm near Gore. Don’t laugh. Gore is a good place to live. Some of the best people I know live in Gore. But that’s another story.
With the 30th anniversary of the Springbok tour there will undoubtedly be a rehashing of events. I hope it doesn’t spoil the rugby again. I expect there are hundreds of stories like mine. Stories of the damage the tour did to us. We grew up then and we shouldn’t forget it. But, I hope with all my heart that the Crusaders win the Super 15. It’ll be great for Christchurch. Great for us all.