Taking different roads

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Police and anti-tour demonstrators outside Parliament in what became known as the Battle of Molesworth St in July 1981. Image: Ian Mackley. From ’81 Springbok protests galvanises a nation divided — Stuff 17 Oct 2015

During the winter of 1981, New Zealand experienced civil unrest on a massive scale, as the nation became polarized around a tour by the South African rugby team — the Springboks.

In protest against South Africa’s deeply racist apartheid policies, the United Nations had, in 1968, called on countries to boycott sporting contact with the African nation. In 1973, the Labour government of Norman Kirk had intervened to prevent the all-white Springboks touring NZ, a decision which probably contributed to the party’s loss of power in 1975.

But in 1981, the National-led government of Rob Muldoon refused to heed either the boycott or the growing opposition amongst New Zealanders. Protest marches had been taking place around the country for several months, but nothing had prepared this little nation of (then) three million souls for the violence and hatred that was unleashed during the tour itself.

Families found themselves torn apart as some members insisted that politics had no place in sport, while others donned thick clothes and (increasingly) crash helmets to go out and face baton-wielding police battalions.

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A protester placing an olive branch onto a policeman’s baton during protests at the All Blacks test against South Africa. File Photo / NZ Herald

My parents — neither particular rugby-loving nor overly political — repeated the “keep politics out of sport” mantra even as my brother and I marched and chanted until we were hoarse. It made for tense mealtimes, but no-one lost their temper over it. My friend Robyn wasn’t so fortunate; her father practically banned her from the house and she broke up with her boyfriend over the tour.

In June 1981, as it became ever clearer that the tour really would go ahead, Joy Division’s Love will Tear Us Apart reached No. 1 in the NZ charts.

… And resentment rides high
But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways
Taking different roads
Love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again

(Ian Curtis, Love will Tear us Apart)

We knew that Ian Curtis had been writing about his marriage and mental state, but somehow the refrain “Love will tear us apart again” seemed to get into my head and I can remember sitting in the car en route to a protest with my brother and boyfriend of the time, singing it again and again.

Sarah at Art Expedition is hosting 30 Days, 30 Songs for the month of June. You can see her latest post here.

Why not join in — you don’t have to post every day.


You can read more about the tour at New Zealand History — the 1981 Springbok Tour

DP Photo Challenge: security

Protesters in Auckland's Queen Street, marching against TPPA, 2014. Image: Su Leslie

Thousands protesting against TPPA, Auckland, 2014. Image: Su Leslie, 2014

While New Zealand does not have an unblemished history in terms of the State’s reaction to peaceful protest, I do still feel secure in my right to challenge those who govern in my name.

Young and old, Maori and Pakeha; united in exercising the right to peaceful protest. Anti-TPPA marchers, Auckland, 2014. Image: Su Leslie.

Young and old, Maori and Pakeha; united in exercising the right to peaceful protest. Anti-TPPA marchers, Auckland, 2014. Image: Su Leslie.

At a time when human rights are increasingly threatened, we must all raise our collective voice in their defense.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. — Pastor Martin Niemöller

Daily Post Photo Challenge | Security

“From little things, big things grow”

From little things, big things grow. The figs are beginning to appear on my tree. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

The figs are beginning to appear on my tree. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Fruit is a common metaphor in the language of change and progress. We talk of plans “coming to fruition”, and of ideas and movements “bearing fruit.” The underlying imagery is of good things growing from small beginnings. I find this comforting right now. Thinking about the issues facing our world — climate change, war, inequality, rampant corporate greed (to name a few)– makes me incredibly depressed. Yet at a personal level, in my daily life I experience compassionate, generous people doing their best to live a good life and tread lightly on our Earth. Sometimes, these good people come together, to work for larger goals. Sometimes, that’s enough to bear good fruit.

This post was written for Ailsa’s Travel Theme at Where’s my Backpack. The title is from the Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody song of the same name.

From Little Things Big Things Grow tells the story of how the Gurindji people of the Northern Territory of Australia sparked that country’s indigenous land rights movement. What began as a labour strike in 1966, became a much wider issue, and eventually resulted in an Act of Parliament granting title and some control over traditional lands to the local Aboriginal people.

Six word Saturday: thousands marched in protest today #TPPAWalkAway

#TPPAWalkAway. Thousands of Aucklanders take to the streets to protest the secret TPPA negotiations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

#TPPAWalkAway. Thousands of Aucklanders gather in Aotea Square to protest the secrecy surrounding the government negotiating the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Getting ready to march. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Getting ready to march. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

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Stretching down Queen Street; anti TPPA protest in Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

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#TPPAWalkAway. Thousands of protesters around New Zealand urged the government to reconsider the highly secret TPPA negotiations. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

What is TPPA (The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement)?