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Springbok Rugby Tour 1981

12 Oct 2015

Our Subjects / Ā Mātou Kaupapa:
History, Society and culture, Sport

What was the controversy about the Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand in 1981?

LEVEL: Intermediate / Secondary

Some people regard the Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand in 1981 as a defining moment in our history. Let's find out why! 'Springboks' is the name of the South African rugby team

The first place to look for information about anything in New Zealand is Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. I used the search feature there to search for Springbok. Although there isn't an entire article dedicated to the tour, I found tons of information in articles on related topics like anti-racism.

It's great to get context from these articles, they help you to understand what led up to the tour, and what impact it had. To help consolidate all of these pieces of information, see this article on Diversity and Civil Rights from Te Papa's website.

HOT TIP: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

The next place we can look is New Zealand History Online. Try the keyword springboks to find a lot of relevant information on the tour, including one titled, not surprisingly, The 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour. This is a great article that explains the tense background and lead up to the tour, and includes a Tour Diary, that links to videos from the time. For what came next, read through the article Impact - 1981 Springbok Tour.

Another great place to find information is in the EPIC databases. EPIC is a collection of reliable sites covering lots of different topics. It is put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this.

The best ones for this topic include Australia New Zealand Reference Centre and New Zealand Geographic. The New Zealand Geographic has got some great images - searching for springbok tour will find several articles.

In the Australia New Zealand Reference Centre you will need to narrow your search terms to avoid getting too many results.

  1. Try searching for springbok tour 1981.
  2. Limit the results to 'full text articles' only.

You will find a lot of newspaper articles, many written at the time of the tour. You could also use keywords to narrow your search to the points that interest you most, for example, try searching for springbok tour protests or springbok flour bomb test

HOT TIP:  To get to the EPIC databases you will need a password from your school librarian first.  Or you can log on to between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday, and one of the librarians can help you online.  Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Another good place to find newspaper articles about the tour is to search newspaper archives on sites like Stuff and the NZ Herald. Just entering keywords like springbok tour 1981 into the search boxes at the top of the homepages will find a lot of articles, although most will be from people looking back and remembering, rather than articles written at the time. 

Because this is such an important part of our modern history, information can be found in a lot of different formats. NZ On Screen has a collection of videos called Rugby, one of which, Try Revolution, is about the 1981 Springbok tour. You can find more videos on the site Rugby Dump, where a search for springbok 1981 found a video about the famous flour bomb test in Auckland.

Also try searching for Springbok Tour 1981 on DigitalNZ. There are photographs and satirical comics, as well as links to more information around the web. 

You can also find useful background information in our Many Answers entries that mention apartheid.

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