While working for TVNZ, Merata conceived of a 25-minute documentary on the anti-apartheid movement's campaign. She was motivated by a moral duty to "raise awareness of the racial aspect of the tour". The project was seen to be too much of a political hot potato, and Mita left TVNZ to finish what would develop into a feature film.The poster above is from Christchurch City Libraries’ small digital collection of 1981 anti-tour posters. Small but valuable, I guess. I’m sometimes struck by the idea that such an epochal and divisive event has left so few cultural traces behind: the Patu! documentary; Chapple’s book and Tom Newnham’s equally hard-to-track-down Of Batons and Barb Wire and local accounts, such as Juliet Morris’ With All Our Strength, a document of the anti-tour movement in Christchurch, plus a couple of memoirs from a couple of cops; more recently, a really good autobiographical essay, “Test Day”, in Elizabeth Knox’s The Love School. But there isn't much else around. Where are the feature films, the novels? If this was our 1968 – as this very good backgrounder says – then compare this relative dearth of cultural material with the abundance that came out of France after/about 1968 or the US from the same era. Maybe New Zealanders just wanted to forget.
Once the tour started, sports grounds and suburban streets became battlefields, as clashes escalated between police and the highly-mobilised protesters. Filmed over the winter of 1981, several camera operators (including industry heavyweights) contributed their time free of charge and became foreign correspondents in their own country, capturing on-the-run footage of the tour clashes.
Ironically, one of the filmmakers who volunteered their time was Roger Donaldson. As protesters in bike helmets squared off against police armed with riot shields and batons, it seemed that Roger's vision of a rampant fascist state in his film Sleeping Dogs was being enacted in real life.
The song. Something from New Zealand, maybe the same year. No, not Blam Blam Blam. Nick Bollinger reckons that first line goes "There are no dissidents/in the homeland".