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.

Community contributions

2 comments have been posted about Film: police and the first test - 1981 Springbok tour

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Doone Parkinson

Posted: 21 Dec 2022

I was married to a policeman who was selected from the Team Policing squad in Wellington to travel with the Springboks to protect them . We had no contact from them for the whole period of training and tour. We watched our husbands being armed and trained to beat people with long batons and wear riot gear. All over a game of sport that had the ability if stopped to change the lives of millions of oppressed people. I lost my respect for the men of New Zealand , for the police,completely for Robert Muldoon, and for my husband. I had been a member of HART before we married and was caught in a position of being abused by people who knew you were married to a policeman, and from the Rugby fundamental fanatics.
42% of marriages during the tour ended .
I personally got on a plane and went to Christchurch to end mine .After being interviewed by many senior policemen who tried to prevent me from seeing him,I was finally able to. I knew if he came back , I would have to take on that role of empathetic understanding wife when the government had asked him to be married to rugby and the police who were trained to see many of the people I knew as friends as “troublemakers “ and “activists” when the rugby fans were throwing bricks concrete and full bottles at them .
We were put in to a situation of being asked to support men who wanted a game of sport to be put above humanity.
I was a protester and like many of my friends, was intelligent, articulate and able to see the injustices of the world we lived in .
The future has shown us the rest . Robert Muldoon and his cronies were still living the war and if their was one positive from it the denial of the effect of colonisation to all black and indigenous people of the world had the denial blanket lifted.

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