Springbok tour

There’s a few standard questions that seem to get asked of any Prime Minister and party leader, like have they smoked cannabis. And what was their view on the Springbok tour. Bill English has been asked that.

Newshub: Bill English was pro-1981 Springbok Tour

Prime Minister Bill English admits he was “probably for it”.

“I was keen to see the tour happen – thought sport shouldn’t be mixed with politics.”

“It helped persuade me particularly as a politician to be committed and spend time on the Maori related issues in New Zealand and I’m pretty satisfied about where that’s got to,” Mr English says.

When Mr English’s predecessor John Key was first asked about his stance on the tour he couldn’t recall, saying: “I can’t even remember… I don’t even know.”

While the comments attracted some controversy, Mr English says it’s feasible someone could lack an opinion on it – despite how divided the country was at the time.

“New Zealanders aren’t always motivated by arguments, political issues, they like a quiet life,” Mr English says.

Some in social media have been quick to ridicule English, both for supporting the tour and for being a bit vague. It is something Key was often criticised for, by a few people who thought something that happened about 35 years ago is of great importance.

The tour is a distant memory for many people, and more than half the population have no memory of it – they weren’t born then, or where very young.

I’m not surprised that English is not totally clear and succinct when asked about the tour off the cuff.

People who went on every protest march they could, or who watched every game they could, they may have very clear memories of their tour stance. Many more people were somewhere in the middle.

I have to stop and think through my views on the tour.  The Springboks arrived in New Zealand on 19 July 1981. My first daughter was born two weeks later. I certainly noticed some of what was going on through the tour but it wasn’t my highest priority.  I was living just about as far from the tour as one could, so it was only something in the news to me.

I was a keen rugby fan and in general supported the right of sports teams to tour. I would have opposed it if the visiting team had tried to dictate who could and who couldn’t play for New Zealand teams due to their race. But that wasn’t an issue.

So I thought the games should be able to go ahead.

But I also supported the right of protesters to make their views known.

I was strongly against apartheid, but I wasn’t convinced a ban would help. I thought sporting visits to a non-apartheid country might help by pressuring South African rugby and the South African government.

I was dismayed about the more extreme things that happened.

I was against the more extreme protests, the hijacking of protests by what appeared to be anarchists or people that just used it as an excuse for violence and mayhem.

I was against the extreme and violent reactions by tour supporters.

And I was against some of the very heavy handed tactics of the police.

For me it was a complex situation, and although the cause of the problems were black and white the issues for me in New Zealand were much less clearly delineated.

Regardless of what I thought about the tour over half a lifetime ago (for me) it is ridiculous that my views or anyone else’s views should be some test of goodness in 2017.

And I think that those who try to make a political issue out of it now are at best wasting their time, or more likely will be acting counter-productive to advancing their cause.

Leave a comment

32 Comments

  1. I understand that most of those who contribute to this blog do not support extreme behaviour, no matter the cause.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  20th January 2017

      I was in favour of hauling Muldoon out into the forecourt of Parliament & having him shot by firing squad for using the tour for political purposes. Given the passions Muldoon still stirs in some folk who remember the beggar, I’m not sure if that would be considered extreme behaviour?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  20th January 2017

        I saw his funeral procession. An unfortunate driver was caught up in it and just kept going as there was no way to get out (a policeman guided him out in the end) I imagined the person coming out of their drive and realising too late that they’d just become part of the Muldoon funeral cortege !

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  20th January 2017

          Ghastly.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  20th January 2017

            I could imagine becoming paralysed as one is in nightmares, unable to do anything but keep driving,hot and cold with embarassment, overcome with nervous laughter. It would be a good story to tell in years to come, though.

            The most embarrassing thing that I have ever had happen on the road was being on the motorway with the horn stuck-all the way into Wellington 😀 My ex-partner didn’t find it as hysterically funny as I did-I can’t imagine why 😀

            Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  20th January 2017

          I saw him a few times. He seemed very old and unattractive to me, and I couldn’t understand how the women with whom he was alleged to have had affairs could fancy him. I knew people who knew him, but they could shed no light on the subject.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  20th January 2017

            You seem to have one of the most extensive ranges of acquaintances who know, or are related to, or friends with, or have spoken at some point to, people who are celebrities or persons of fame, achievement or notoriety – or who have witnessed, had reported to them, or actually experienced interesting or unusual situations, misfortunes, or significant events in times past – of any person whom I have ever had the singular pleasure to become in some small way acquainted with, Mrs C.

            Reply
      • Gezza

         /  20th January 2017

        It would appear my thoughts at the time are considered a little extreme. 😳

        Reply
        • PDB

           /  20th January 2017

          I don’t know……..John Minto stirs the same feelings in many people today.

          “The skull could re-join the human race and learn to play the clarinet or take up quilting or pole-vaulting or anything at all that would take him off our streets with his incessant tedious rage against mankind”.

          http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11266262

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  20th January 2017

            Didn’t even need to click on that to know who the beknighted author would be.
            Always a good read, that man.

            Reply
            • Pickled Possum

               /  21st January 2017

              Afternoon Geeza
              Seems Bobby boy and Johnny boy have been playing this game since way back. John Minto says in 2014 …

              “Instead of trading personal abuse I challenge Bob Jones to a public debate on drone strikes, our mass surveillance society or perhaps why Israeli policies are the greatest threat to world peace.”
              Read what he has to say about the “Outside Key Residence” protest.
              John Minto protests about what He considers to be relevant n hs NZ world and still he gets ….
              More people making shit up about him, someone who has balls to put his name and energy to what he believes in.

              http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=11268375

            • PDB

               /  21st January 2017

              John Minto hates Jews, ‘rich’ p***ks, is a hypocrite and is nowadays a sad, somewhat bitter caricature…… I can see your attraction to him.

      • I met Muldoon in 1984 when he came through Dannevirke. Surrounded by tall men in suits he looked like a tired little old man. But 15 minutes later, in front of the mic on the stage of the town hall, he lit up the auditorium. An amazing performance.

        Reply
  2. PDB

     /  20th January 2017

    PG: “I was against the more extreme protests, the hijacking of protests by what appeared to be anarchists or people that just used it as an excuse for violence and mayhem”.

    People tend to ‘gloss over’ this aspect nowadays as if the police were the only one’s looking for a fight.

    Reply
    • Indeed PBD…. civil rights protesters in NZ believe in their civil rights of association and demonstration but not other peoples rights of association. Classic hypocrites Minto and friends…

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  21st January 2017

      There was very little of this in Christchurch. However aggressive and violent police tactics were shipped around the country via their Red Squad. By the time of the Auckland Test it was a miracle no-one was killed.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  21st January 2017

        And not a single police officer was charged with any offence re the tour unlike hundreds of protesters, mostly for civil disobedience. Check out what the police did to the clowns in Auckland sometime.

        Reply
  3. patupaiarehe

     /  20th January 2017

    Christ! All of this malarchy happened a short time before I was old enough to know any better! What I make of the whole situation, is that some folk put sport before human rights. Which is wrong, IMHO. Let’s be honest please, and put all prejudice aside. Certain ethnicities do better at certain things than others. It’s just genetics at work. I really can’t imagine a white Usain Bolt…The funny thing about the Sprinkbok tour, is that by excluding blacks, they almost set themselves up to lose… 😀

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  20th January 2017

      At the time I think most people thought that stopping a sporting team from playing would make no difference to that country’s political stances – many have since then realised that the protest had a greatly uplifting effect on the black population of SA.

      From a pure rugby prospective the series was one of the most gripping of all time – a drawn series may have been a better reflection of how it all played out on the field.

      Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  20th January 2017

        many have since then realised that the protest had a greatly uplifting effect on the black population of SA.

        As I said earlier Pants, this was a little before my time. But it did have that effect, which I imagine is what the protesters intended.
        I’ve worked with more than a few ‘SA’s’, in my time, and in my experience, the ‘blicks’ are far more competent on the tools, than their ‘dutchy’ countrymen. What is really amusing, is to watch a ‘boer’ work (or try to!) under a brown foreman…. 😀

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  20th January 2017

        It took a long time for New Zealand to grow up, boot apartheid apologists in the goolies, & give recognition to Maori as every bit worthy of respect as ourselves in our own society.

        “When the All Blacks toured South Africa in 1970, Māori players were able to travel as ‘honorary whites’, a situation that appalled Winter and others in New Zealand’s growing anti-apartheid movement.”

        https://nzhistory.govt.nz/media/photo/no-maoris-no-tour-poster

        Reply
        • patupaiarehe

           /  20th January 2017

          Nothing short of disgusting G. Isn’t it great that our society has evolved since then???

          Reply
          • Conspiratoor

             /  20th January 2017

            Perhaps pat. Have you been to South Africa recently? Would you say a black man in joburg enjoys a better standard of living than 30 years ago?

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  20th January 2017

              Nope C, why would I? I have, however, been most entertained by the interactions between white & coloured SA’s in NZ, where everyone is equal (whether the ‘dutchies’ like it, or not 😀 )

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  21st January 2017

              What has happened in SA is tragic. Probably largely a consequence of Mandela’s age when he took power – not enough time and energy left and the ANC was left to wallow in greed, incompetence and corruption with the results everyone can see.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  20th January 2017

    Lots of memories and fairly heavily involved in those days. No need to regurgitate it now.

    Reply
  5. I was 16 and only remember disgust for the planes dropping flour bombs, and shock/awe for the armour used by the riot police against seriously unruly protesters. I suspect that rather naively my opinion would have been that you shouldn’t mix politics with sport.

    Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  21st January 2017

      So no disgust for a pack of racists then Duncan? If they did the tour again today, & I knew how to fly a plane, I’d be dropping cow shit on the field, not flour….

      Reply
      • Brown

         /  21st January 2017

        Ohhhhh, if I knew how to fly a plane… For goodness sake, stop with the slogans already. I can see the headlines you in Bomber Command – “Berlin rather smelly after another 1000 bomber raid as Germans pounded for being racist anti – Semtites and anti homophobic”. Or “Tragedy unfolds as dam raider’s dog Nigel run over before bouncing turd dropped”.

        Reply
      • The NZ I grew up in had little apparent racism, of any race. My school mates and neighbours were of various nationalities which were more a point of interest than discrimination. What was happening in other parts of the world was less on my horizon. Did I mention that I was 16?

        Reply
  6. My wife was asked to accompany Mrs Muldoon when Muldoon visited Indonesia and she was very impressed at the way he fussed over his wife and made sure she was well looked after. Muldoon went to the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery inJakarta and laid a wreath and then walked around the cemetery to the graves of each NZ serviceman. I also recall he was interested to see a grave for a Stoker Muldoon. For all of his faults, and he had those, he was a very humane person, and served his country as a NCO during the Second World War rising to the rank of Cpl, one of the ranks of the hardest soldiers we had. It was not his size or shape that was important it was his head and his heart. RIP.

    Reply
  7. I was pro-tour. For the reason I want our multi racial team to stuff the Boks on the world stage and blow their myths of superiority away. And they did.

    The protesting was all well and good until the stupidity of invading pitches happened. Dumping fish hooks on rugby fields as was done at the old Rugby Park in Hamilton was a disgrace.

    I remember the time well – the country was well split by the tour. But those on the anti side went ott with some of their tactics seeking a ott response so they could cry to the media. The got it. Its a pity the Police weren’t a little more controlled

    Reply

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