This April marks the 45th anniversary of the sinking of the ferry Wahine. With more than 50 lives lost, this was New Zealand's worst modern maritime disaster. The Wahine’s demise on 10 April 1968 also heralded a new era in local TV news as pictures of the disaster were beamed into Kiwi living rooms.
New Zealand had been granted a mandate over the former German colony following the First World War. Growing Samoan calls for independence came to a head during a Mau demonstration in Apia which left 12 people dead.
For 56 days in July, August and September 1981, New Zealanders were divided against each other in the largest civil disturbance seen since the 1951 waterfront dispute. The cause of this was the visit of the South African rugby team – the Springboks.
In Hamilton the protestors occupying the pitch had chanted 'The whole world is watching'. The same applied to New Zealand as a nation. Some believed the tour was an opportunity to address racism in New Zealand and show solidarity with the oppressed black majority in South Africa.
Keeping sport and politics separate was becoming increasingly difficult. In July 1969 HART (Halt All Racist Tours) was founded by University of Auckland students with the specific aim of opposing sporting contact with South Africa.