Springbok Rugby Tour 1981

Where can I find information about the Springbok Rugby Tour of 1981?

Senior Secondary

(Years 11-13)

1981 photo of anti-Springbok tour protestors in Wellington NZ. Some hold banners. One banner reads ‘Fight apartheid’ and ‘Stop the tour’.

Image: Anti-Springbok tour demonstration, Willis St, Wellington by Evening Post. Collection: Alexander Turnbull Library.

Entry last updated: 5/07/22

Introduction

In 1981 the South African rugby team, the Springboks came to tour New Zealand. They had toured before, but the South African apartheid system was causing an increasing public outcry in New Zealand. Things came to a head in 1981, with New Zealanders fiercely divided over whether the Springbok tour should go ahead. There were numerous protests at rugby games around the country and some violent encounters between the pro-tour and anti-tour movements.

Before the tour

The South African Springboks and the All Black rugby teams had toured New Zealand and South Africa before 1981. Try these sites for information about the background of this particular tour and why it was controversial.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Use the keywords 'Springbok rugby tour' to search.
  • There is not one specific entry for the 1981 Springbok tour, but there is information about it in several entries such as Rugby and South Africa and Politics of sport.
  • These entries give a summary or timeline of events leading up to the tour.

Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g. 'Springbok rugby tour' We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Supporters and protesters

Have a look at these sites to find out about opinions on both sides of the controversy.

DigitalNZ

DigitalNZ brings together lots of digitised New Zealand content and culture, and is a good place to look for information about the Springbok Rugby tour.

  • Enter your keywords eg 'Springbok Tour 1981' or ‘Springbok Rugby'.
  • The results are grouped by the type of information, like images, audio, videos, newspapers, articles and research papers.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Funded by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is New Zealand’s audio-visual archive. Their collection includes film and television, radio and sound recordings, props, posters and more from over 120 years of New Zealand’s history.

  • Select Catalogue.
  • Enter the keywords '1981 Springbok tour' and make sure to select Available Online.
  • Listen to [Springbok tour 1981 - compilation].
  • This is a collection of 13 cuts of radio coverage of the protest surrounding the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand.

Australia New Zealand Reference Centre

This is one of the EPIC resources, a collection of reliable databases. Here you can find information on why people opposed or supported the tour and about the impact the tour had on New Zealand.

  • Try searching with the keywords 'Springbok tour' to find lots of newspaper and magazine articles.
  • It's a good idea to limit the results to Full Text articles by ticking the box on the left side of the results.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Radio New Zealand

This is New Zealand's public radio service on New Zealand news, current affairs, Pacific, Te Ao Māori, sport, business including opinions and analysis.

  • Go to the tab called Topics at the top of the page, then scroll down the page to Collections.
  • Find the collection called The 1981 Springbok rugby tour which is all about the game and the protest actions.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa

Te Papa is New Zealand's National Museum and it houses collections and exhibitions about 20th Century history and culture. Te Papa has a collection of images, posters, objects and videos from the 1981 Springbok rugby tour.

Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us page.

The New Zealand History Collection (BWB)

The New Zealand History Collection is also a part of the EPIC databases. Here you will find a collection of ebooks on New Zealand history and biography titles from Bridget Williams Books. It has a book about what happened during the protests in Auckland.

  • Find the title When the Tour Came to Auckland and select Read Now.
  • Move through the chapters by using the arrows at the top of the page.
  • Or select the three lines to go back to the Contents.

After the tour

Try these websites to understand the impact the tour had on New Zealand society.

NZHistory

NZHistory is another reliable website from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. It has sections on the culture, politics, people and history of New Zealand.

  • Select the section on Culture and Society.
  • Look under Sport to find 1981 Springbok tour.
  • Read through the pages to find out about the protest and the impact it had on the people and politics of New Zealand and South Africa.

New Zealand Geographic Archive

Another EPIC resource, this site has got some great pictures.

  • Search using the keywords 'springbok tour' to find articles, like Tainted Games.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

NZOnScreen

NZ On Screen is the online showcase of New Zealand television, film and music video. All content is free to view. There are several films on the effects of the tour.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Books and DVDs

There are books that have been written on the Springbok rugby tour of 1981 - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Here are some recommended titles:

SCIS no: 1839526

Topics covered

Related content

Back to Many Answers