Events In History


Natives' Rugby Tour, 1888-89

  • Natives' Rugby Tour, 1888-89

    The title of 'The Originals' was bestowed on the next New Zealand rugby team to tour Britain, that of 1905-6, but even though it was soon forgotten, the Natives' tour was to have enduring significance for New Zealand rugby and society.

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  • Page 2 – Rugby in 1888

    The rugby played by the Natives was different from the game we know today.

  • Page 3 – Maori and rugby

    In 1872, 'Wirihana' became the first recorded Maori rugby player when he turned out for Wanganui

  • Page 4 – Preparations

    In the absence of any body regulating the game in New Zealand, Eyton was free to promote a tour of Britain as a private venture

  • Page 5 – The 'Noble Maori' arrive

    After playing nine matches in New Zealand and two in Melbourne in the southern winter of 1888 (with only two losses), the Natives set off for Britain by steamer.

  • Page 6 – Daily routines

    Between their first and last matches in Britain, the Natives played on average every 2.3 days.

  • Page 7 – Unsporting behaviour?

    Although hacking and tripping had been banned in the 1870s to make the game safe enough to appeal to gentlemen, rugby remained dangerous.

  • Page 8 – Natives and northerners

    In 1888 the gentlemen who ran the Rugby Union (and the Empire) were based in southern England, and the England test was played in London. Yet the playing strength of the

  • Page 9 – Rugby and society

    What effect did the Natives' tour have on rugby and wider New Zealand society? It showed that New Zealanders could compete on equal terms with representatives of the imperial

  • Page 10 – Matches played

    Games and scores Total (rugby games only): played 107: won 78, drew 6, lost 23 Points for: 772; Points against: 305 In Britain: played 74: W49, D5, L20 Points for: 394; Points

  • Page 11 – Further information

    This web feature was written by David Green and produced by the team. Books

Sport, 1940-1960

  • Sport, 1940-1960

    The mid-century decades brought more mass participation in sport, the consolidation of many national competitions, and greater achievement at international level.

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  • Page 2 – Lydiard's legacy

    The cult of masculinity had one positive spin-off: Arthur Lydiard. A runner of iron will but limited natural ability, he discovered that as he ran further he got fitter.

  • Page 3 – Women's sport, 1940-60

    Women's sport matured in New Zealand after 1945. Mass participation in a period of prosperity, and increased mobility thanks to the now-common motor car, were crucial factors

  • Page 4 – Competitors and spectators

    Sports participation and spectatorship were the only daytime leisure activities to rival home-centred pursuits such as gardening in this period. New Zealand's hosting of

  • Page 5 – Changing trends

    Professionals in an amateur age

  • Page 6 – Further information

    Links and books relating to Sport in New Zealand 1940-60

1981 Springbok tour

  • 1981 Springbok tour

    For 56 days in July, August and September 1981, New Zealanders were divided against each other in the largest civil disturbance seen since the 1951 waterfront dispute. The cause of this was the visit of the South African rugby team – the Springboks.

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  • Page 2 – All Blacks versus Springboks

    Since rugby went professional in 1995 countries like Australia, England and France have challenged New Zealand and South Africa's claims to be the two powerhouses of world

  • Page 3 – Politics and sport

    South Africa's apartheid policies and attitudes created obvious problems for New Zealand rugby, given the prominence of Māori in the sport.

  • Page 4 – Stopping the 1973 tour

    Keeping sport and politics separate was becoming increasingly difficult. In July 1969 HART (Halt All Racist Tours) was founded by University of Auckland students with the

  • Page 5 – Gleneagles Agreement

    The All Blacks accepted an invitation to tour South Africa in 1976, when world attention was fixed on the republic because of the Soweto riots.

  • Page 6 – Battle lines are drawn

    Tour supporters were determined that the first Springbok visit to New Zealand since 1965 would not be spoiled. The anti-tour movement was equally determined to show its

  • Page 7 – Tour diary

    Select itinerary of the 1981 tour by the Springbok rugby team.

  • Page 8 – Impact

    In Hamilton the protesters occupying the pitch had chanted 'The whole world is watching'. The same applied to New Zealand as a nation. Some believed the tour was an opportunity

New Zealand cricket

  • New Zealand cricket

    Relive some of the highs and lows in the history of New Zealand's most popular summer team sport, cricket. Although the game has been played here since the 1830s, international success – especially against traditional rivals England and Australia – was a long time coming.

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  • Page 3 – The World Cup

    A brief history 

1982 Football World Cup

  • 1982 Football World Cup

    As New Zealand prepares for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we look back to 1981-82, when football first seized the country’s imagination. After slogging through an epic qualifying schedule of 15 games, the 'All Whites' took on the best in the world at the 1982 finals in Spain.

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  • Page 2 – Qualifying rounds

    New Zealand’s long road to Spain began on Anzac Day 1981 with a hard-fought 3–3 draw with Australia at Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland.

  • Page 3 – Playing in the finals

    The New Zealanders were given little hope against their opposition in Group 6, which was dubbed the ‘pool of death’. This group included the cup favourites, Brazil

  • Page 4 – All Whites' results

    Results from qualifying and finals games played by New Zealand

1987 Rugby World Cup

  • 1987 Rugby World Cup

    In a country where rugby became a surrogate for religion, hosting and then winning the first Rugby World Cup was a big deal. The story of how the tournament came about mixes the worlds of sport, politics and money.

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  • Page 2 – Origins of international rugby

    Before the 1987 Rugby World Cup and the professional era, rugby prided itself on extolling the virtues of friendly rivalry.

  • Page 3 – The long road to the cup

    There were many obstacles along the road to the first Rugby World Cup.

The 1970s

  • The 1970s

    The 1970s were an era of economic and social change. Global oil shocks hit the New Zealand economy hard, while protests against the Vietnam War and nuclear testing continued. A new generation of activists raised questions about race relations, sexuality and the welfare system in New Zealand.

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  • Page 2 - OverviewSummary of what NZ was like in the 1970s, including our population, economy, popular culture, protest issues, politics and sporting

The 1960s

  • The 1960s

    Five decades ago most Kiwis enjoyed a standard of living that was the envy of other nations. During the 1960s the arrival of TV and jet airliners shrank our world, and New Zealanders began to express themselves on a range of international issues, including opposition to the Vietnam War.

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  • Page 2 - OverviewSummary of what NZ was like in the 1960s, including our population, economy, popular culture, sporting achievements and

Dominion status


  • Williams, Yvette Winifred

    The sports writer Peter Heidenstrom rated Yvette Williams as his 'New Zealand Athlete of the Century'. There is no doubt that she was one of our greatest-ever athletes - and probably the most versatile. 

  • Reid, John Richard

    After debuting for the New Zealand cricket team against England in 1949 John Reid went on to play another 57 tests for his country, 34 of those as captain.

  • Lydiard, Arthur Leslie

    Arthur Lydiard was a marathon runner and athletics coach, whose most notable trainees included Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions.

  • Morgan, Edward

    Ted Morgan was a boxer and a plumber, and was the first New Zealander to win an Olympic gold medal.