Patu! is the definitive film of the 1981 Springbok tour protests, a technically complex piece of guerrilla filmmaking that explicitly connects apartheid abroad and racism at home. Newly preserved by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
In 1981, South Africa’s rugby team, the Springboks, were invited to tour New Zealand. The decision was extremely controversial; some people saw it as a tacit endorsement of apartheid while others insisted that politics had nothing to do with New Zealand’s favourite sport. Patu! captured what followed.
As thousands of New Zealanders took to the streets to demonstrate their solidarity with the victims of apartheid, battalions of filmmakers and photographers recorded the confrontations with police and rugby diehards.
The credit list on this film is a who’s who of the renaissance of New Zealand cinema. Their contributions, which totalled many hours, were edited into an incredibly persuasive feature by Merata Mita. “You may even be in it” ran the tagline on the posters, but the tone of the film is far from self-congratulatory, instead showing the disgust at apartheid and dissatisfaction with New Zealand race relations felt by its subjects.
The original 16mm theatrical release version of Patu!, which premiered at the Festival in 1983, ran 113 minutes. Merata subsequently recut the film for international release to 84 minutes.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the Springbok tour, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision have produced a newly preserved version of the 1983 theatrical release of Patu!, for screening in 2021.
“Yes, Patu! has a Māori perspective, but it does not override the mass mobilisation of New Zealand's white middle class, neither does it take credit from those who rightly deserve it, everyone who put themselves on the line. My perspective encourages people to look at themselves and examine the ground they stand on.” — Merata Mita
40th anniversary restoration film provided by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.