Learning & Research - Akoranga me Rangahau
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1981 springbok tour pathfinder

This pathfinder will help you find resources to assist your study of the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand. The controversial tour became one of the most divisive events in New Zealand history, with the impact reaching far beyond the playing field. In 56 days there were 205 demonstrations in 28 centres, involving more than 150,000 New Zealanders. 


12 September 1980 New Zealand Rugby Football Union (N.Z.R.F.U.) formally invites the South African rugby team to visit New Zealand.
01 May 1981 First major demonstration. 

14 May 1981 Prime Minister Robert Muldoon receives an ultimatum from the Commonwealth that New Zealand’s hosting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Conference is in jeopardy if the tour goes ahead.

10 Jul 1981  The NZRFU meet for the last time to decide whether the tour should proceed or be cancelled.
19 Jul 1981 Springboks arrived in New Zealand.
25 Jul 1981 Protestors storm Rugby Park, Hamilton. The game is called off.
29 Jul 1981 The, “Battle of Molesworth Street”, as anti-tour protests reach a new level in Wellington. Springboks play Taranaki in New Plymouth

31 July 1981 As opposition to the tour mounts The Prime Minister threatens to call a snap election.
12 Sep 1981 'Flour-bomb' Test, Eden Park, Auckland.
13 Sep 1981 Springboks Leave New Zealand.

Suggested reading 

This is not an exhaustive list but it will provide you with a starting point for your research. Remember that books about New Zealand history in general will also have useful information about the 1981 Springbok tour.

Aitken, Anna. (Contrib.), Mackay, David. (Ed.) (1982).
Counting the cost: the 1981 Springbok tour in Wellington. Wellington, New Zealand. Victoria University. TRC322.44 COU

Cameron, Don. (1981). Barbed wire boks. Auckland, New Zealand. Rugby Press TRC796.333 CAM

Chapple, Geoff. (1984). 1981: The Tour. Wellington, New Zealand. Reed. TRC322.44 CHA

Freeman, Margaret and Hollins, Rosemary. (Eds.) (1982). Arms linked: women against the tour: poetry and prose by women opposed to the 1981 Springbok Tour. Auckland, New Zealand. The editors. TRC820.8 ARM

Greig, Louise. (Contrib.), McKinnon, Malcolm. (Ed.). The Police and the 1981 Tour. Wellington, New Zealand. Victoria University. TRC322.44 POL

McCredie, Athol. (1981). The Tour: Photographs, A record by 16 photographers of protests against the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand. Athol McCredie. TRC322.4 MCC

Meurant, Ross. (1982). The Red Squad Story...Auckland, New Zealand. Harlen. TRC363.32 MEU

Morris, Juliet. (1982). With all our strength: An account of the anti-tour movement in Christchurch 1981. Christchurch, New Zealand. Black Cat TRC322.44 MOR

Newnham, Tom. (1981). By Batons and Barbed Wire: A response to the 1981 Springbok Tour of New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand. Real Pictures. TRC322.44 NEW

Shears, Richard. (1981). Storm out of Africa: the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand. MacMillian. TRC796.333 SHE

Walker, Geoff. (1981). 56 Days: A History of the Anti-Tour Movement in Wellington. Wellington, New Zealand. N.Z.U.S.A. TRC322.44  FIF

These books also contain some useful reading about the 1981 tour:

Moon, Paul. (2013). Turning points: events that changed the course of New Zealand history. Auckland, New Zealand. New Holland. TRC993.03 MOO

Newnham, Thomas Oliver. (2003). Interesting times: a Kiwi chronicle. Auckland, New Zealand. Graphic Publications. TRC323.092 NEW

Templeton, Hugh. (1995). All honourable men: Inside the Muldoon cabinet, 1975-1984. Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland University Press.  TRC324.293 TEM

Journal articles:

In our vertical files we have a collection of journal articles written about the 1981 tour. Please ask a staff member to get these out for you. TRCVF322.44 SPR

You can also use INNZ (Index to New Zealand Periodicals) and findNZarticles (a National Library collaboration) to search for more articles and newspaper reports about the tour. You may need to talk to Puke Ariki staff about how to access full text copies.

We also have databases which can be accessed in Te Pua Wānanga o Taranaki/ Taranaki Research Centre or from home on the Puke Ariki website using your library card and pin number.  (for example; Opposing viewpoints in context – one of the Gale databases)


These are available in Te Pua Wānanga o Taranaki/ Taranaki Research Centre, please ask staff for assistance.

ARC2003-837 (Oral History) An interview with Snow Latham, a resident of Douglas, about his experiences of police surveillance during the Springbok Tour.

ARC2004-235 A souvenir programme from the South Africa v Taranaki game, 29 July, 1981. (Box 2, Folder 10)


Use the dates in the timeline to search for articles in the Taranaki Herald and the Taranaki Daily News. Both newspapers are available on microfilm in Te Pua Wānanga o Taranaki/ Taranaki Research Centre.  


The New Zealand History online website has useful content for secondary school students. Here is a link to the 1981 Springbok tour schedule and map.


Te Papa Tongarewa/ Museum of New Zealand has some useful information and links about the tour under their website topic, ‘Diversity and Civil Rights’.


Taranaki Story: our website has a story about Graham Mourie’s decision not play against the Springboks in 1981.


Check out the playlist “1981 Springbok Tour” on the Medianet computers in Te Pua Wānanga o Taranaki/ Taranaki Research Centre. You will find a selection of documentaries and films that may help your research.


Last editied: 8 February 2016