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07 FEBRUARY 2009

Patu!: documenting the actions of the NZ anti-apartheid movement during the 1981 Springbok rugby tour

"Merata Mita's Patu! is a remarkable protest story told in the face of adversity, and a monument to a time when New Zealand was torn in two by the 1981 Springbok rugby tour. You were either for or against. And Patu!, with its highly–charged images of violent clashes between police and anti–tour marchers, is firmly sided with the later. It is passionate, activist film–making at its most compelling.

The Springbok rugby tour to New Zealand was seen by some as endorsement of South Africa's separatist government. When the New Zealand Rugby Football Union and the NZ government ignored calls to cancel the tour, the NZ anti–apartheid movement planned peaceful protest marches to attempt to sway the government's decision.
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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.
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Due to the mass of cinema verite style footage, Mita and editor Annie Collins had to examine many hours of footage, collected from several different sources (including 16 field camera operators). But the effort pays off.
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The completed film, now 110 minutes long, was a record of heroism for the liberal left in New Zealand. For many young people taking to the streets, it was their 1968. Māori and Pākehā, children and grandparents, gang members and clergymen, in a moment of rare consensus, stood together to affirm shared values. Patu! was also a morale booster for the African National Congress.
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Patu! is a landmark in New Zealand's film history."
(Mihi Murray, 30.08.2008)

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TAGS

19811981 Springbok rugby tour • African National Congress • Amandla • Amandla Ngawethu • ANC • Annie Collins • anti-apartheid • Aotearoa New Zealandapartheidcivil libertiesdirect cinemadocumentary filmhistoryMaoriMerata MitaNational (political party) • New Zealand Rugby Football Union • NZ On Screen • NZRU • PakehaPatu! • PR24 Control Baton • protestracismrugbySouth Africawomen in film

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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