HISTORY IV: 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour (PART II)

22nd July 1981. The Springboks began the journey down the east coast of New Zealand and found their way to Gisborne. The Springboks were to play Poverty Bay (a small bay near Gisborne) for their first game in NZ.

To enter Rugby Park (where the game was being played), spectators had to agree to be searched upon entry. Items such as banners, placards, flags, poles, fireworks, or “any article that might impede the match” were banned.

As the game kicked off, over 300 anti-apartheid protesters marched across the neighbouring golf course to reach Rugby Park. A wire fence separated folk watching the game with barbed wire topping it and a line of police officers attempting to keep the peace.

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HISTORY IV: 1981 Springbok Rugby Tour (PART I)

Apartheid even extended to sport. Leagues were established in all sports, separated by race. For instance, football (soccer) was divided into the white South African Football Association, the African Indian Football Association, the South African African Football Association, the South African Bantu Football Association, and the South African Coloured Football Association

This led to many countries boycotting international play of various sports with South Africa. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) banned South Africa from international games.

However, the world governing body for the sport of rugby union, the International Rugby Board (now called World Rugby) did not suspend South Africa from international games, and South Africa remained a member throughout the apartheid era.

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ANZAC III: The (Other) Great Escape

In 1937, Nazi Germany began work on building the first and the largest concentration camp in Germany. Found eight kilometres north of the city of Weimar, the camp was able to incarcerate over 60,000 people.

Opened in July 1938, the camp was dubbed Buchenwald. Buchenwald Concentration Camp was comprised of three distinct areas, the first area was dubbed the Special Compound, this included the administration offices, the Commandant’s Villa, and finally the Schutzstaffel (or, SS) Quarters. The SS was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the foremost agency of security, surveillance, and terror in Nazi Germany.

Prisoners of the camp included Jewish people, political prisoners, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Gypsies, German military deserters, asocials (which included the homeless, alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, the unemployable and pacifists) and finally, prisoners of war.

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Case 30: The Foxton Tragedy

FOXTON. MANAWATU-WHANGANUI. In 1866, Te Awahou was renamed Foxton; named after Sir William Fox the second premier of New Zealand (Premier meaning head of government). Over the next century, Foxton established itself as a small industrial town. Its primary exports were flax, wool and timber; as well as its famous soft drink – Foxton Fizz. 

However, as of the early 21st century, Foxton’s identity is in a state of flux. The once a bustling industry town has been forced to rebrand to something new. Many of the flax mills have been shut down; along with the Feltex carpet factory – forcing many Foxton residents into redundancy. 

The town has attempted to rebrand as a tourist attraction. Cafes populate Foxton’s Main Street; and the town plays host to a Maori carving workshop, the Flax Stripper Museum, a Dutch windmill and Foxton Beach.

As of 2021, Foxton is home to 3,330 people. However, even with its small population, Foxton has events she is ashamed of. 

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Case 29: Elizabeth Battersea

PAKIRI. AUCKLAND. By the mid-1800s, conversations were being had surrounding further expansion of women’s rights within marriage, and their access to education and employment. Due to the women’s rights movements, women had more opportunities in life. They received greater access to education. Also, for the first time, they could take on work outside of the home. Women became accepted in certain occupations in society, they were finding work as cooks, teachers, nurses and secretaries. 

The first major victory for the movement came in 1860 with the ‘Married Women’s Property Protection Act’, which allowed women to keep any money they earned if they were deserted by their husbands.

Women were given the right to divorce their husbands in 1867 under the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act. For men to obtain a divorce they had to prove their wife had committed adultery. However, for women to obtain a divorce they had to prove their husband had committed adultery plus an act of either: incest, bigamy, rape, sodomy, bestiality, desertion of at least two years or extreme, brutal cruelty.

By 1874, women’s rights had come a long way since the turn of the century, but there was still a long road ahead. The long road to equality had only just begun.

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CHRISTMAS II: The Tangiwai Disaster

At 3 pm on Christmas Eve 1953, a Thursday, the daily Express train No. 626, a KA 949 class steam locomotive, left the Wellington railway station en route to Auckland carrying 285 souls, some men, some women, some children, many families visiting relatives, or even folk returning home for the holidays armed with presents for their loved ones. 

As the evening progressed, the train passed through Levin, Palmerston North, Feilding and Taihape. Nearing 10 pm, train No. 626 passed through the small military town of Waiouru, perhaps passengers looked out and observed the famous Waiouru Military Camp, home to many of NZ’s armed forces at the time.

At 10.20 pm, train No. 626 passed the Tangiwai Railway Station, it was clocked at 64 kilometres per hour (or 40 miles per hour), below the maximum track speed of 80km/h (or 50mph). The train continued chugging along and began approaching the rail bridge that crosses the Whangaehu River.

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