July 19, 2006

Protests a turning point in the history of New Zealand. : In Tri-Nations action this weekend, South Africa visits New Zealand. NZH and TVNZ look back 25 years when the 1981 Springboks toured NZ. The ensuing public protests polarised the New Zealand population as no other issue has in that nation's history. In scenes reminiscent of South Africa itself, protesters clashed with police and enraged rugby fans; rugby grounds resembled war zones, barbwired and barricaded. During the final test match at Eden Park, a low-flying light plane disrupted the match by dropping flour-bombs on the pitch. One of the flour bombs brained an All Black on the head. The pilot served six months' jail for the stunt. From Robben Island prison, Nelson Mandela said "the sun shone through the dark corridors of the cells" when he heard about the protests. TVNZ has a 24-minute documentary broken into three separate small javascript video clips of the tour (each about 8-minutes long; the "flour bombing" is on the 3rd clip.) Definitely worth a look!

posted by the red terror to culture at 09:21 AM - 4 comments

Wikipedia has more.

posted by the red terror at 09:22 AM on July 19, 2006

Great story. Living on the other side of the planet, I completely missed this event. It's heartening to see the most ardent advocates on both sides of this fight now able to sit down and have a civilized and nuanced conversation about what happened back then. Thanks for bringing it up.

posted by chicobangs at 10:09 AM on July 19, 2006

I worked with a woman who was an adviser to Steve Tshwete, the first Minister of Sports in the multi-racial South Africa. He was also in Robben Island for a time, and tells a story that when the All Blacks Test matches were on, the guards wouldn't let the inmates (who, ANC loyalists to a man, would like nothing better than the Boks to be hammered) listen to the radio broadcast, especially if they were losing. The guards would further taunt the prisoners by saying that they would pass on the score only if one of the inmates volunteered to be whipped. In Steve Tshwete's words: "Five hundred hands instantly went into the air."

posted by owlhouse at 03:19 PM on July 19, 2006

There were similar protests 10 years earlier in Australia when the Boks toured. The Queensland premier, the fascist-inclined Joh Bjelke Petersen, declared a state of emergency for the match in Brisbane, giving the police extraordinary powers of arrest and detention to deal with a bunch of peaceful protesters. My English teacher was arrested for trespass on the Sydney Cricket Ground during the same tour. The protests worked - as the following summer's Sth African cricket tour of Australia was cancelled. Despite complaints from conservatives and a couple of unofficial 'rebel' tours to Sth Africa supported by big money (and subsequent bans for participating players), Australia maintained the sporting boycott.

posted by owlhouse at 04:23 PM on July 19, 2006

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