When the Spring Box arrived in Nelson on Thursday, August 20, 1981 – they arrived in a town on the question of a colorful sect.
The game was played two days later at Trafalgar Park, where Box beat Nelson Bayes 83-0, sparking clashes between pro-Tour supporters, anti-Tour protesters and police.
Fault lines inside the city began to break weeks before the event, with Nelson Bay Fixtures scheduled for one month on a 56-month tour.
Just a week ago, the first Test was played in Christchurch for the big scenes of the demonstration, and the scheduled mid-week game against South Canterbury in Timor-Leste was canceled.
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While the leadership in Nelson until Saturday was clearly focused on the expected clashes between protesters and police – a decision by Nelson Mayor Peter Mellon proved to be a flashpoint between supporters and opponents.
Prior to the arrival of the Spring Book Squad, Mellon was determined to maintain the tradition of officially welcoming the touring team into the city.
Except for a private ceremony in Gazebour before the opening match of the tour, no other council proceeded with an official reception.
On Tuesday, a group of “concerned citizens” met with the mayor in an attempt to change his mind, who were happy with the results of a recent poll that said 61% were against Nelson’s visit.
But Malone said the protest movement had lost its credibility by allowing civil disorder.
Two days later, on Thursday, the matter came to a head when protesters filled the council chamber for a meeting at 7 p.m.
Entering the meeting to cry “shame” and “racism”, Malone responded by saying that he was “sick and tired” of trying to associate it with coloring – and that the team was welcome. The decision to do so was in the tradition of being polite to visitors. .
He did not satisfy the crowd when anger rose inside the chamber, and calls for his opinion on the councilors’ visit increased.
The answer was mixed. Councilors Craig Putin, Elma Turner and Dorothy Mathews were quick to condemn the visit – others supported the mayor’s position.
The official reception at the Rutherford Hotel on Friday went off without incident, attended by Mayor Mellon, Deputy Mayor Pat Tundle, Councilor Malcolm Sanders, and Nelson MP Mel Courtney.
Outside the hotel, however, there were already some protests, which began to escalate again at sunrise on Saturday morning.
What happened on Saturday was planned for weeks and months – by both protesters and police.
Susan Hawthorne was one of the local coordinators of HART (stopping all rest tours), which organized protests until the game day demonstration.
Sergeant Rex Morris, on the other hand, was tasked with planning a police operation to protect the Spring Book team, his bus route to the ground and the match at Trafalgar Park.
Hawthorne said the protesters were a tough group-with skills and backgrounds and contacts with a wide range of people.
“For the month that was already involved and when it was going on, it was the center of my life.
“It was very intense. We were very sincere in our intention to draw attention to the evils of color and race. That was all.”
Hawthorne said most of the protesters on the day of the match were from Nelson, although some came from Christchurch, Wellington and Blaineham.
Morris said the logistics also proved to be a major problem for the police, when the initial plan to have 283 police reached 772 just weeks before the match.
“It was the first week of the school holidays and we had to find about 20 extra buses and accommodations for 20 more people – so we had to put people in Motovika and Woodbourne.”
He said that due to the influx of people, most of the local Nelson police were assigned to coordinate the logistics, most of the officers on the front line were from outside the area.
The battle lines were drawn on Saturday morning.
Roads leading to Trafalgar Park were cleared, barricades were erected and police reached the Maitai Bridge to control access to the park.
At the Rutherford Hotel where the Spring Book team was staying, about 100 protesters gathered to form a packet line and clashed with police, many of whom were arrested.
The main rally ended at the foot of the church, where anti-Tour banners hung on Nelson Cathedral Tower.
Hawthorne said the main purpose of the protest was to show the strength of the opposition for the tour rather than stopping the match.
“It was important to get the number on the road … it was one of the strategies we had to focus on.
“after the [the pitch invasion in] No one was likely to go anywhere near Hamilton Ground. They laid barbed wire, left huge rubbish, they protected the fields as much as possible, we knew there was no chance of getting close.
He said that when there were some “clashes around the edges”, the mob did not come to fight with the police.
“We were ready for the clashes, all of us who were marching and ready were marching in helmets and clothes with newspapers and life jackets – only when we approached the police. “
During a visit to Hathaway Court during the police operation, Morris said that when the noise of the protesters could be heard, they were prevented from disrupting the match this afternoon.
Compared to off-field action, the on-field competition was less dramatic as the Spring Box scored 83 points in 80 minutes پہلی the first five eighth-round picks with 31 of them.
After the match, Nelson Bays captain Bob Neighbors lamented that he was too big and too fast.
Nelson base coach Marvin Jaffrey was not present to watch his team separately. As he chose to stay at home because of the moral opposition to the tour. – Instead, he gets occasional score updates from his wife as he works in his vegetable garden.
A total of about 30 people were arrested during the protests, most notably Christchurch and Wellington, police said.
Some weapons were also seized – from smoke bombs to slingings and iron spikes.
Looking back 40 years later, both Hawthorne and Morris said the effects of the visit are still being felt today.
Hawthorne said she was honored to play her part at a time when her actions meant she had lost friends and job opportunities.
“It simply came to our notice then.
“There was a kind of authenticity and clarity, which then leads us to awareness of racism in New Zealand, and the inequalities and harms that were never done and were never addressed. ۔ “
Morris said he was focused on doing his job at the time, and that the politics of right or wrong did not occur to him.
From his point of view, he said, it signaled a change in the way the police interacted with the public.
“With just the planning of the tour, the structure of the police and the planning of these operations became very military.
“We should have been a service organization to help the people, but this visit in 1981 may have told the police, ‘We will enforce the law.’
“You don’t see the police helping young and old women on the streets anymore, because they’re busy enforcing the law – to me, that was a big change.”