HART at 50: Anti-apartheid figures recall group's impact

10:13 am on 12 October 2019

Leading figures from the Halt All Racist Tours movement will talk about the power of protest at a symposium in Wellington today.

Christchurch mayoral candidate John Minto

Former HART member John Minto says New Zealand Rugby has come a long way since the anti-tour days. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

It's 50 years since the HART was formed. For over two decades, it campaigned against sporting ties with apartheid-era South Africa. Emotions reached a peak during the Springbok tour of the 1980s when thousands of people protested in what was described as the largest civil disturbance New Zealand had seen in 30 years.

Former HART member John Minto said the movement had a profound influence on the country, stimulating intense debate about racism and race relations. He said New Zealand took big strides forward in understanding our own situation through the Springbok process.

Mr Minto said New Zealand Rugby has also come a long way since the anti-tour days.

"New Zealand Rugby had a very isolationist stance. It was saying 'we'll do whatever we like and we'll play with South Africa because that's our prized rugby relationship, test matches against South Africa, and we'll do that irrespecitive of what's happening against South Africa or around the world'. We've moved on a heck of a lot since then and that's all been positive."

He said he was proud of the fact he was a spokesman for the group but he said HART was a movement, not an individual.

Other speakers at the HART at 50: The Power of Protest include HART founding member Trevor Richards, former members Sue Bradford, Dave Wickham; former All Black and HART supporter Bob Burgess; Professor Charlotte Macdonald from Victoria University and author Linda Burgess.

The symposium is being held at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga, in Molesworth Street, Wellington from 9:30am to 1:30pm.