Film: police and the first test - 1981 Springbok tour

The first test: Lancaster Park, Christchurch, 15 August 1981 (5mb)

Police view of events

Blue Squad member Pete Carrington describes the police experience.

Police in a 'no-win situation'

The All Blacks won 14–9.

The day was one of massive protest action around the country. In Christchurch the thrust of the protest was to spread the police cordon around the venue by coming at Lancaster Park from all angles. The goal was to occupy the pitch.

Some people have commented on the fact that it was miraculous nobody was killed during the tour, a sentiment echoed by Pete Carrington, a member of the Blue Squad. He believed that had protestors succeeded in occupying Lancaster Park that day, there would have been fatalities. Rugby supporters pelted protestors with blocks of concrete and full bottles of beer. Carrington maintained that the police saved the protestors from serious injuries and were not the enemy.

In making preparations for policing the tour, police minister Ben Couch, himself a former All Black, believed that he and the police were charged with the duty of upholding the law by maintaining order. Tour matches had both a legal and a moral right to proceed in his view and the police were obliged to ensure that they were allowed to do so by using all lawful means at their disposal. The police set aside $2.7 million for Operation Rugby to ensure this happened. The actual costs for policing the tour blew out and were eventually estimated at being in excess of $15 million.

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whitianga mahara

Posted: 02 Aug 2013

as my dad ws protesting in hamilton at the waikato stadium he helped tear down the fence to get onto the field then after running in the middle of the field police chased and tackled a few protesters as the game was cancelled and the protesters were escorted out of the stadium due to the spectators as they threw anything they could to hit the protesters