Malcolm Maclean


The contradictions exposed by Maori responses to the 1981 Springbok rugby tour are clearly seen on the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island, as they were in every other iwi.1 The Springboks were welcomed at Te Poho-o-Rawiri marae at the same time as other Ngati Porou, Rongowhakaata and other local Maori were spreading broken glass across the playing field at Gisborne’s Rugby Park — the visitors were told in no uncertain terms that they would not be welcomed again. Others from the region could not see the problem. Rugby great, George Nepia, said in 1985 ‘we have got what we wanted — the Maori in All Black teams that play in South Africa. I can’t make out why other teams can visit South Africa without all the fuss’ (Romanos 39). Other iwi and regions suffered similar problems, dissension and uncertainty. The Tai Tokerau District Maori Council in the north of the country announced its support for the tour in July 1980. This prompted a vigorous debate in the Far North and an announcement in January 1981 that the Council opposed the tour.



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