HART (Halt All Racist Tours) was formed in 1969 with the intention of stopping all rugby union tours with the Apartheid infested South Africa. Created by Trevor Richards, John Newnham and John Minto, all members of the University of Auckland, in order to stop the upcoming 1970 All Black tour of South Africa. Despite HART’s failure to stop the 1970 tour, they continued to lead serious protest movement against any and all sporting contact with South Africa until the mid 1990’s when Apartheid was abolished. HART also had a hand in the postponement in the 1973 Springbok tour. In 1980 HART merged with the National Anti-Apartheid Council to form HART: NZAAM (Halt All Racist Tours: New Zealand Anti-Apartheid Movement), and, after tens years as National Chairperson of HART, Trevor Richards was replaced by the infamous John Minto.
HART was a key group in the protest action of the 1981 Springbok tour as it spearheaded the protest action against the tour. HART’s methods of protest in the 1981 Springbok tour were of non-violent means, mainly consisting of police disobedience in order to stretch their resources beyond their capacity. HART also protested the unofficial tour of South Africa by the New Zealand Cavaliers in 1986, really an unofficial All Blacks ride in an attempt to fly under the radar of the public, however HART’s protest to this tour were not on the same scale of the 1981 tour. HART ceased to exist after the dismantlement of Apartheid in 1994 where the African National Congress party was elected in.
NZRFU (New Zealand Rugby Football Union)
The NZRFU (Now NZRU) were given much of the blame for the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand, as it was ultimately their decision whether the tour would proceed or not, and despite the immense unrest in New Zealand regarding political issues in the tour, they decided that politics should have no say in sports.
Red and Blue Riot Control Squads
Red and Blue squads were riot control groups deployed during the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand. They played a pivotal role in keeping the protesters at bay. Former Red Squad member Ross Meurant stated in an interview with the New Zealand Herald in 2011, that in Hamilton, where protesters successfully invaded and occupied the pitch evading any police attempts, “had Red Squad not been locked beneath the grandstand until the protesters had broken through the fence line, Red Squad alone could have stopped them”. From this point on no game where Red and Blue riot control squads were present was there any cancelation of games. However Meurant knew the opinion the public had on him and his men as he stated, “Well, history shows we won the battle for the streets. But history also shows we lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the people”.
John Minto had one of the more notable individual contributions to the 1981 Springbok tour as he led the protest group HART in opposition of the tour, as he became National Chairperson in 1980. His contribution was not only through guiding the vocal and disruptive protest group HART to two successful cancelations of games throughout the tour but also took the brunt of the end of a police baton during the game in Hamilton. This however did not deter his cause as in response he introduced protesters to the idea of wearing crash helmets and overalls, to distinguish and protect themselves. Also during this year of 1981 Minto was named on a list of “subversives” by the New Zealand Security Intelligence service. Minto also gained an increase of publicity as police batons were comically named “Minto Bars”, due similarities between Minties and Minto himself. More recently Minto unsuccessfully ran for Auckland Mayor in 2013 as co-vice president of the Mana Movement, with his campaign to rid the city of Auckland of all traffic within 12 months, a very big claim.
Although Kirk was not alive during the event of the 1981 Springbok tour due to his untimely death in 1974 due to heart complications, his decisions in the years leading up to the tour proved significant in the escalating tensions within New Zealand. Voted as Prime Minister in 1972 with his Labour government, it was Kirks decision to postpone the 1973 Springbok tour in fears that many nations would boycott the 1974 Commonwealth games hosted by Christchurch. This was labelled as a “policy back flip”, as in Kirk’s campaign for Prime Minister Kirk stated that he would not interfere with the tour in any way. This undoubtedly hurt the Labour party’s in the 1975 general election as Labour was voted out and Robert Muldoon’s National were voted in and would be in control during the 1981 Springbok tour.
Robert Muldoon served as the 31st Prime Minister of New Zealand with his National government from 1975 to 1984. Muldoon most notably known for his “No politics in sport” policy, resisting any and all protest to cancelling the 1981 Springbok tour. By doing so was seen to have violated the 1977 Gleneagles agreement, which restricts any and all sporting contact with South Africa as long as Apartheid legislation was in place. However Muldoon argued that he had in no way had he violated the agreement as “New Zealand and subsequently other countries made it clear that they could not subscribe to an agreement which required them to abrogate the freedoms of their sportsmen and prohibit sporting contacts”. Despite the unrest the tour had caused Muldoon was re-elected in the 1981 election later that year.
- Red and Blue riot control squads hold protesters back from reaching Athletic Park, Wellington