Christopher X. XXXXXX
Dr. XXX XXXXX
April 29, 2010
When the word rugby is mentioned the country of New Zealand comes to the front of many individuals minds. Likewise, when the country New Zealand is mentioned one of the first things people think about is rugby. When you put the two terms together the cognizant formula that results is the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand. It is quite clear in historical texts what had happened during the time leading up to the tour and what ensued during the 57 days that the Springboks were unwelcome guests of New Zealand. When assessing this time period, many authors focus on issues of sociology, politics, sport, and the historical significance that this event had on an international, as well as, domestic level. What is less understood however is the psychological makeup of this entire series of events; including, the psychology leading up to the events, the psychology during the events, and the psychology after the events. Apartheid was obviously a large psychological factor that fueled political protest, but there are numerous other psychological variables that need to be explored to understand the full complexity behind the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand.
The 1981 Springbok tour, generated the worst civil violence in New Zealand since the Depression riots in 1932.1 However the disdain for South Africa and its system of apartheid dates back several decades before the infamous 1981 Springbok tour. In 1948 the South African Parliament introduced a legalized system of segregation which it called apartheid, which means separtness.2 The newly implemented system of government was so passionate about their new form of government that they eventually forbade all non-white team members, from any country, to travel to South Africa to participate in athletic events. The exclusion of Maori players from traveling to South Africa to play the Springboks caused protests in New Zealand as early as 1953(„No Maoris, No Tour‟).3 In 1961 the Prime Minister of South Africa Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd banned dark skinned Maoris travelling to South Africa to play the Springboks and, Maori were once again banned in 1968.4,5 By this time tensions were beginning to run high in New Zealand and in 1973, the New Zealand government countered the South Africans by denying a Springbok tour of New Zealand.6 Eventually the two countries played each other again in 1976 where the All Blacks lost to the Springboks, this meant that South Africa in 1981 remained the only country that had scored more victories than defeats against the All Blacks; the stage was now set for massive social unrest.7
In 1981, the Springboks were invited to New Zealand by the New Zealand Football Rugby Union (NZFRU) for a 57 day tour.8 The two teams were not even supposed to have played one another, but Prime Minister Candidate Robert Muldoon ran and won his election using a pro-Springbok tour strategy, after which he allowed the Springbok tour of 1981 to take place.9 Stemming from this, a large number of anti-tour protestors took to the streets, often times using extreme measures to make sure the games on the tour were not played. For instance, one match was cancelled when a World War II pilot stole a four seater Cessna, which he threatened to dive kamikaze style into the grandstands if the match was played.10 Likewise, there were many individual accounts of brutalization and retaliation by pro-tour men and women against the anti-tour protestors.11
The climax of the tour occurred during the attacks on Wellington Street, these attacks brought the realization that the tour could not be stopped, but it could be disrupted.12 This would, in the eyes of the protestors, stretch police resources to a breaking point and ensure that no tour would ever happen again.13 In total, there were 205 demonstrations of protest in 28 centers involving 150,000 people with nearly 2,000 arrests with a third to half of the police force involved in ensuring the test matches could proceeed.14,15,16 Although these protests were among the worst in New Zealand‟s history, no deaths were recorded.17
The political, historical, and sociological aspects of the tour have been well documented. However, much remains left unanswered with respect to the psychological feelings of the people before, during, and after the tour. This paper aims to answer how much variability in psychological variables (stress levels, depression, suicide, etc.) were prevalent during this time compared to the United States (controlling for population), a nation that was relatively unaffected by the Springbok Tour of 1981.
Primary Sources on This Topic: Imagining the Documents
Where to Find Them
- -Emergency medics at hospitals and on the scene would have been involved with treating patients that had been injured during the riots. Lab technicians and secretaries would have been the ones to input the results.
-If the medics had taken blood work and had it analyzed there may be documentation on gluccocortocoid (a stress hormone) levels of people before, during, and after the tour.
-Gluccocortocoid levels and other medical reports could be found at the hospital filed away in archival patient records. Anonymity would have to be used designating a code number to each case rather than the patients‟ name.
-Coroners and police who would have been responsible for determining if a cause of death was natural or suicidal in nature.
-Death certificates during the time leading up to the tour and for a specified time period after the tour indicating the number of suicides and deaths by natural cause. These numbers could be compared with other time periods to determine if any significant values exist.
-Coroner‟s office, police stations, hospitals, other governmental buildings and divisions that may be responsible for this record keeping.
-Mental health professionals that would have seen patients during the time before, during, and after the tour.
-Their patients records (holding anonymity through number coding) that indicated the different types of mental disorders that surfaced during the time before, during, and after the tour.
-Psychiatric hospitals, mental health institutions, state hospitals, counseling centers.
-Newspaper reporters that were involved in covering the events before, during, and after the tour.
-The newspaper articles they wrote and their firsthand account of the psychosocial atmosphere of the tour.
-Locate the reporters at their residence or place of employment. Go to libraries for hardcopy of newspapers.
As has been mentioned, the political, social, and historical aspects of the Springbok tour of 1981 have been well documented. However, many psychological factors (e.g. depression, suicide rates, and stress levels) have long gone unaccounted for. It is only logical that this missing gap in history should be accounted for and documented in detail. If these questions can be answered, then measures can be implemented that will ensure that future psychological stress in times of a nations turmoil can be attenuated with the least amount of variability. Through careful observation of the psychological events leading up to the tour, the tour itself, and the events after the tour; one can make cross cultural comparisons on this data and future research will present itself to scholars in the sciences as well as the humanities. Likewise, the general public can gain insight from this study in that they will be aware of the psychological experiences that their parents and grandparents went through in one of the largest civil disturbances in New Zealand‟s history.
1James Belich, Paradise Reforged: A History of the New Zealanders From the 1880s to the Year 2000 (Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai‟i press, 2001), 478.
2Elizabeth G. Boing, “New Zealand as a Biracial Nation: How the Springbok Tour of 1981 Helped Revive Maori Culture.” Lehigh University News, n.d. 93-101.
3Michael King, The Penguin History of New Zealand Illustrated (New York: Penguin Books, 2007), 384.
4 Patti Waldmeir, Anatomy of a Miracle: The End of Apartheid and the Birth of the New South Africa (New York: WW Norton & Company, 1997), 268.
6Michael M. Roche, “Protest, Police and Place: The 1981 Springbok Tour and the Production and Consumption of Social Space.” New Zealand Geographer 53, no. 2 (1997) : 50-57.
8Shona M. Thompson, “Challenging the Hegemony: New Zealand Women‟s Opposition to Rugby and the Reproduction of a Capitalist Patriarchy.” International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 23, no. 3 (1988) : 205-212.
9W.H. Oliver and B.R. Williams, eds. The Oxford History of New Zealand, (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1981, Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1981), 423.
10Rob Nixon, “Apartheid on the Run: The South African Sports Boycott.” Transition 58 (1992) : 68-88.
12Malcolm Maclean, “Football as Social Critique: Protest Movements, Rugby and History in Aotearoa, New Zealand.” International Journal of the History of Sport 17, no. 2 (2000) : 255-277.
14Jacob Pollock, “‟We Don‟t Want Your Racist Tour‟: The 1981 Springbok Tour and the Anxiety of Settlement in Aotearoa/New Zealand.” Graduate Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies 2 (2004) : 32-43.
16Wayne Hope, “Whose All Blacks?” Media, Culture & Society 24 (2002) : 235-253.
17Springbok Tour 1981, “1981 South Africa Rugby Union Tour of New Zealand” [review], (in Wikipedia),
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1981_South ... ew_Zealand (accessed April 24, 2010).