Historic Hawke's Bay: Springbok tour divided friends and families

Historic Hawke's Bay: Springbok tour divided friends and families


My first year in the workforce was 1981 at a local accounting firm, Lady Diana Spencer had got married to Prince Charles, and in July, August and September over 56 days the South African Springbok rugby team would tour the country.

The previous year I had studied history at high school and a major part of the curriculum was South Africa’s apartheid regime. We had to learn the various apartheid acts of-by-heart, such as forbidding mixed race marriages etc.

We had learnt about Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s preference for no political interference in sport ‒ “even if there were threats of violence and civil strife”.

Opposition to the 1981 Springbok tour was based on the South Africa’s apartheid regime. It divided friends, family and workmates – others were like Muldoon and thought sport and politics should remain separate, and others saw sport as a legitimate means of protest. (While I was of the opinion at the time there were many protesters holding strong views on apartheid and used our national game to highlight this, many others, I thought, just wanted to be civilly disobedient.)

It was Hawke’s Bay’s turn to host the Springboks in August 1981 when they would take on the New Zealand Māori team at McLean Park, Napier. This was exactly 60 years from the first time these two teams had met in 1921 at McLean Park.

After the civil unrest that followed the teams around New Zealand in July and August 1981, police reinforcements arrived in Napier.

The team would stay in the Masonic Hotel on the Marine Parade and detailed preparations were made for their arrival and safety afterwards. As Napier’s premium hotel it was the natural choice for such sports teams to stay.

The Springboks had stayed at the Masonic Hotel in 1956 when they played Hawke’s Bay, and then manager Stan Nicol had heard rumours of their unruly behaviour in other hotels.
When the team arrived Stan called out to the South African coach, Dr Danie Craven, who was going up the hotel steps from the team bus: “Hey, just a moment, I am Stan Nicol.”

Dr Craven introduced himself, to which Stan replied: “I know who you are, and I just want to tell you before you go into my hotel, there is going to be none of the carry on like I heard in previous hotels.”

Craven replied: “I’ll make sure that they behave themselves as I am Dr Craven.” Stan replied: “I told you, I know who you are, and I want you to know who I am, I am the manager of this hotel, and when you are in my hotel you will do as I wish.” The South Africans, needless to say, behaved themselves.

It, however, was a different world from 1956 when the Springboks came to Napier in August 1981.

A heavy police presence surrounded the Masonic Hotel day and night, and only media and police were allowed to stay in the hotel. Preparations for the team staying included all rubbish bins in the hotel and surrounds being checked for bombs with police using scanners, all mini bars were emptied and no ice (in case it was poisoned) was allowed in the rooms.

Employees coming into the hotel were greeted by protesters (not pleasantly always) and by police who searched their bags.

Staff were given the option by management of the Masonic Hotel not to serve any of the Springboks if they held views on apartheid and no action would be taken if they decided not to. One waitress decided to serve only the police, not the players.

Seated at the police table, not with the other players, was Errol Tobias, the first black player to play for South Africa (Ireland, May 30, 1981).

Similar to the French rugby team that had recently stayed in 1979 at the Masonic Hotel, she reported behavioural problems that occurred from some Springboks players.

After the August 26, 1981 New Zealand Māori versus Springboks game had finished, which resulted in a 12-all draw, around 400 protesters did their best to block the Springboks’ return to the Masonic Hotel.

They regrouped from their positions around McLean Park at Clive Square, and marched up Emerson St, before breaking into a trot heading towards the Masonic Hotel. Squads of police then confronted the group, 40 of whom slipped in Herschell St to try and get to the Masonic Hotel that way.

Spotting this, the police put a barricade by using a freight truck.

At 4.30pm, an organiser with a loud hailer said: “Hold it here. Remember all these people went to the game.” They were referring to the traffic now spilling out from the McLean Park onto the Marine Parade. Traffic was then held up when 50 protesters blocked the road for 10 minutes outside the Masonic Hotel.

In order to avoid confrontations with rugby supporters, the protesters quickly dispersed after being told to go by the organisers.

Some protesters, according to hotel staff working there, did return and kept vigil overnight and throughout the day using loud hailers to try and tell the Springboks exactly what they thought.

Overall the protests at Napier were not as bad as throughout New Zealand, with little serious violence and no arrests made.

Police could not guarantee the safety of the South African team in their Wellington Hotel before the second New Zealand test, so they spent one more night at the Masonic Hotel.

Despite the civil unrest caused and Prime Minister Robert Muldoon’s refusal to stop the Springbok tour, his National Party just won the first past the post November 28, 1981 general election, although, like the 1978 general election, Labour had more of the popular vote.

Some political commentators had predicted the tour would be a major political issue.

• The Masonic Hotel: The Heart of Napier is a newly released book by Michael Fowler and available for $49.95 from the Art Deco Masonic Hotel or The Art Deco Trust shop in Tennyson St.

Michael Fowler (mfhistory@gmail.com) is a contract researcher and commercial business writer of Hawke’s Bay history. Follow him on facebook.com/michaelfowlerhistory

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Earthworks start on Te Puke's Rangiuru Business Park

Development of the Rangiuru Business Park officially began last week. The land development site in Rangiuru was blessed with the support of the Tapuika Iwi Authority and local kaumātua as ... Read more »

Te Puke Community Board trialling solar-powered lighting

Te Puke Community Board is shining a light on dark places. In a trial designed to illuminate areas not covered by street lighting, the board is assessing the effectiveness of ... Read more »

Bay of Plenty Lotto players in the money, Powerball jackpots to $35 million

Lotto Powerball was not struck last night, and will jackpot to a whopping $35 million for Saturday’s draw. The numbers were: 5, 19, 21, 28, 30 and 39. The Bonus ... Read more »

Northland news in brief: Witnesses sought for fatal crash on SH1; new technology to monitor heavy rainfall

Sports ground upgrade Moerewa’s sports ground, Simson Park, now has competition-standard floodlights, thanks to the Far North District Council and ratepayers. FNDC recently installed six floodlights on each of the ... Read more »

Three Waters reform: Whanganui Feds say rural water schemes have fallen through the cracks

In the absence of an opportunity to address the Government directly, Whanganui Federated Farmers executive member Tim Matthews has made this submission to the Whanganui District Council. It concentrates on ... Read more »

Whanganui secondary school students are discovering pathways to careers in conservation

A growing awareness of the environment among the teenage fraternity has helped form a unique alliance in Whanganui designed to teach the fundamentals of conservation.In May, AGC Training partnered up ... Read more »

Two separate Whanganui farms are legitimate cases to be sold as carbon credit banks

A variety of options, including carbon farming, makes this Kauaraparoa Rd property an attractive block for astute investors. Photo / Supplied Two separate, established forestry blocks with legitimate cases to ... Read more »

Counting blessings rather than sheep is proving an ideal slumber tonic for farmers during difficult pandemic times

David Cotton drifts off to a peaceful sleep counting his blessings rather than sheep as his favoured slumber tonic in these difficult pandemic times. The independent Whanganui farmer, livestock trader ... Read more »

Just when you think things are rosy, something out of left field slaps you fair in the face

Just when you think you’ve reached the bottom of a cycle and things are looking slightly rosier on the horizon, along comes something out of left field and slaps you ... Read more »

Lamb prices high - at the moment

Sheep farmers are soaking up the good times as lamb prices remain high. Lamb returns jumped to $9.35 a kilogram for a 17kg lamb in the South Island last month, ... Read more »

National Shearing Circuit: Nathan Stratford takes the lead

Invercargill shearer Nathan Stratford is heading the PGG Wrightson Vetmed National Shearing Circuit leaderboard with the maximum points from the first two rounds. Stratford’s 24 points came from the open ... Read more »

The Country - Birthday edition

Today on The Country, it’s Jamie Mackay’s birthday. However, The Country host was determined to deflect attention from his big day, by revealing it’s also “another great shearer’s” birthday – ... Read more »

Two injured, one serious, in Whanganui crash

Two people have been transported to Whanganui Hospital following a crash in central Whanganui. Emergency services were alerted to the crash at the intersection of Glasgow and Pitt St shortly ... Read more »

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Jacinda Arden on the vaxathon and Three Waters

Data shows that rural Kiwis are lagging behind when it comes to vaccination rates, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hopes this week’s Super Saturday will change those statistics. The Super ... Read more »

Rotorua Police seek occupants of car seen in area during fatal Te Ngae Rd crash

Police are still investigating the circumstances of a fatal crash on Te Ngae Rd, Rotorua, on October 2. “As part of our inquiries, we would like to identify and speak ... Read more »

Central Hawke's Bay Sport Awards caught by Covid

Covid-19 continues to bite into Hawke’s Bay’s events and functions, with the latest event to fall casualty being a usually sold-out sports awards evening in Central Hawke’s Bay. The 2021 ... Read more »

Wellington teenager's final moments a tribute to 'best friend' mum and 'hero' dad

A selfless Wellington teenager who has raised nearly half a million dollars for brain cancer research slipped away “beautifully and calmly” last night, says her father. 15-year-old Jemima Gazley was ... Read more »

Government announces new courthouse for Tauranga

The Government is moving ahead with new courthouses in Tauranga and Whanganui, which the Justice Minister says provide an opportunity to redesign court facilities that help put victims at the ... Read more »

Strong odour brings fire service to St John's Hill School in Whanganui

The fire service was called out to St John’s Hill School on Wednesday after an alarming smell began emanating from a drum near the swimming pool. The incident happened about ... Read more »

Direct Hit: A new comedy-drama at Whanganui Repertory Theatre

Written By: Shona Wilson Directed By: Kerry Girdwood New Plymouth can now add a new name to their marvellous array of creative venues and persons. Shona Wilson has written a ... Read more »

$1,744,066 in NZCT community grants awarded in September in Bay of Plenty

The latest round of New Zealand Community Trust grants have been revealed. Grants awarded in Bay of Plenty in September totalled $1,744,066. The recipients are:• Apanui School: $17,000 – Voice ... Read more »

Is whole-fat or low-fat milk better for kids? Study finds it makes no difference

A world-first study from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has found whole-fat milk is just as good for kids as low-fat. The research, published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ... Read more »

Northland news in brief: Whangārei man in custody after border breach; two crashes kept emergency services busy

Two crashes Two crashes kept Whangārei’s emergency services busy on Tuesday. The first came at 10am when a station wagon was discovered crashed off the side of State Highway 1 ... Read more »

The Hits: New ideas for trick or treat costumes

The spooky season is upon us. Or so we are led to believe – Halloween (at least for those in lower levels of restrictions, and of course pre-Covid) seems to ... Read more »

Hastings, be prepared for some wild folk music

The wired and wonderful romp of a band that is Ish are in many ways a group that captures the spirit of 2021 – they’re positively infectious. Their raucous caravan ... Read more »

Yarrows Taranaki Bulls continue unbeaten run with win against Otago

It wasn’t convincing, but the Yarrows Taranaki Bulls continued their unbeaten run in the national provincial championship with a 30-23 win against Otago. The Bulls also take a comfortable nine-point ... Read more »

Six social housing units to be constructed in Ohakune

A government investment of $2.1 million will be used to build six new social housing units in Ohakune. The announcement, made last Friday by Housing Minister Megan Woods, will see ... Read more »

The 90% Project: Hawke's Bay DHB urges region to get vaccinated this Super Saturday

Hawke’s Bay is inching closer to 80 per cent of its population receiving at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, and the DHB along with regional leaders is urging ... Read more »

Covid19 Delta outbreak: West Auckland dairy among latest locations of interest

There are only three new Auckland locations of interest released by the Ministry of Health this evening. A Whangārei Subway store is the most recent Northland location of interest. There’s ... Read more »

Aggravated robbery at Hastings' Railway Rd dairy

Detectives are investigating an aggravated robbery of a Hastings dairy. Police were called to the Railway Road Mini Market, on Railway Rd Hastings, late Tuesday morning. A spokesperson for police ... Read more »

Sunflowers a rotational crop option for New Zealand growers - Research

Growing sunflowers to produce high-oleic oil could provide additional income for New Zealand growers as a rotational crop during the summer period, new research has found. The Foundation for Arable ... Read more »

'Devastated': Hawke's Bay Wine Auction cancelled for second year

The country’s oldest wine auction has been cancelled for a second time as Covid-19 continues to impact the event industry. This year’s Hawke’s Bay Wine Auction, set to mark its ... Read more »

The Country - 151 Off The Bench edition

Today on The Country, Jamie Mackay spoke to Sir Ian Taylor about #151 Off The Bench – his business travel trial that uses private MIQ. On with the show: Sir ... Read more »

Dr Jacqueline Rowarth: Regenerative agriculture and the Snark Syndrome

Opinion: The Illusory Truth Effect or “Snark Syndrome” is allowing people to blame poor nutrient density on farming practices rather than their personal food choices, writes Dr Jacqueline Rowarth. The ... Read more »

RSE workers arrive in Central Otago

More than 80 of the first seasonal workers to come to New Zealand as part of the country’s one-way travel bubble with three Pacific countries arrived in Central Otago last ... Read more »

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Contact of positive case identified in Wellington 

A contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case has been identified in Wellington. The person is associated with the first Northland case, a woman who allegedly used false documents to travel ... Read more »

Tauranga Olympic middle-distance runner Sam Tanner backs Athletics for Every Body campaign

New Zealand Olympic middle-distance runner Sam Tanner is encouraging tamariki to join their local athletics club this summer as a means of developing their “physical literacy”. The reigning national mile ... Read more »

Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Auckland laundromat, apartment complex latest location of interest

An Auckland laundromat and a central city high-rise apartment complex are today’s new locations of interest. The Ministry of Health is asking anyone who visited the Urba Residences in Howe ... Read more »