Sunday, 3 July 2011


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.


JackieO said...

Great post, thanks Roarprawn - I was at high school at the time, in Christchurch, and only found out about the sheer level of violence shown towards the protestors years afterwards. Also I was lucky enough to be surrounded be around people who also opposed the tour, so I thought that was normal! Don't know if you have seen Patu, which captures a lot of the spirit of that time (and features, I am sure of it, a much younger Hone Harawira). Cheers JackieO

Anonymous said...

I was a young fella at the time. I protested the tour notwithstanding my love of rugby and wanting to watch the old foe. I came from a fairly left background so that probably had some influence on my view. Well I'm a bit of a righty today and would still march even with my conservative views. National was a disgrace at the time, rugby supporters were a disgrace at the time, and our police force was a disgrace at the time. It had a lasting impact on my view of the rugby fraternity - I still don't really drink with the boof heads. That said, thank goodness for the courage of Graham Mourie who refused to play - a bloody kiwi hero up there with Apiata in my view. He's the reason I still play and support rugby.

Anonymous said...

Good on ya for having the guts to speak out against the Tour, even when the locals didn't want to hear it! It's a real eye-opener to see how the cops treat demonstrators eh? Not quite the 'protect and serve' myth they like to promote... ;)

Best sign of hope tho, is Ross Meurant - when even police leaders recant and talk about how wrong the Tour and their actions were, you know there is hope for the future.

Mad Marxist.