Opinion around New Zealand on the 1981 Springbok tour

Map showing opinion around New Zealand on the Springbok tour

Opinion on social and political issues often differed sharply between the cities and the rest of New Zealand. From the 1960s new social patterns and attitudes developed in the main cities and amongst the university-educated, but not necessarily in small towns and rural New Zealand.

The South African rugby tour of 1981 revealed deep rifts within New Zealand society. Opinion polls indicated that a majority of those questioned in the four main centres (and in some other cities, such as Palmerston North and Nelson) opposed the tour.

In stark contrast, public opinion strongly favoured the tour in provincial centres such as Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Whanganui, Timaru and Invercargill.

Data from which this map is derived

This data is from a poll carried out by the New Zealand Herald between 25 and 30 July 1981. The question asked was 'Should a Springbok rugby team have come to New Zealand?'.

Town/city Yes (%) No (%) Don’t
know (%)
Whangarei 44 52 4
Auckland 41 50 9
Hamilton 54 37 9
Tauranga 54 38 8
Gisborne 44 54 2
Rotorua 52 36 12
New Plymouth 51 40 9
Whanganui 57 38 5
Napier & Hastings 44 44 12
Palmerston North 43 51 6
Masterton 45 39 16
Wellington 34 57 9
Nelson 32 61 7
Blenheim 55 41 4
Christchurch 33 57 10
Greymouth 41 55 4
Timaru 55 36 9
Dunedin 27 68 5
Invercargill 62 22 16
TOTAL 42 49 9

Community contributions

1 comment has been posted about Opinion around New Zealand on the 1981 Springbok tour

What do you know?

Noel Ellis

Posted: 06 Aug 2016

Can you find out where the different university student associations stood? I was at Otago University at the time and a number of Tour supporters (including Mike Laws) had a group call SCRUM (Students Civil Rights University Movement) who wanted to end OUSA (Otago University Student's Association's opposition to the Tour. It was an ironic use of the term "Civil Rights" for what was clearly a pro-rugby group. The joke among the left was that in their case Civil Rights should be spelt as one word. They proposed a neutral position of neither opposing nor supporting. Not only was not opposing tacit support, but it was crucial for the NZUSA position, as four campuses opposed the Tour, and three supported the Tour. If one more had changed then NZUSA could not have maintained its opposition. I am sure that Auckland, Wellington Canterbury and Otago opposed the Tour. I believe that Lincoln and Waikato were supporting the Tour, and possibly Massey. Can anyone confirm this?