Dancing on Our Bones

Dancing on Our Bones

New Zealand, South Africa, Rugby and Racism

Out of stock: Reprint under consideration; ebook forthcoming.

Dancing on Our Bones traces the history of opposition to playing sport with South Africa from an early 1921 Springboks versus Māori rugby match onwards.

In this vivid account of a sport dominated by the politics of apartheid, Trevor Richards asks: what does an issue that sparked so much controversy over so many years tell us about ourselves? Richards, who as leader of Halt All Racist Tours for 23 years was a principal actor in the drama, brings a unique perspective to the subject. His account is compelling and his challenge on the issue of racism in this or any country remains unsettling.

Available in paperback format from booksellers and using the ‘Buy’ button on this page. For more information on these purchase options please visit our Sales FAQs page or contact us.

Table of contents

A battle for the soul of New Zealand
Section One 1902–1968 A history of New Zealand’s first capitulation to South Africa
1. 1902–1948: Neither forgotten nor forgiven
2. 1948–1966: Cutting into very deep principles
3. 1966–1968: New concerns
Section Two 1969–1981 From the eye of the storm: New Zealand responds to apartheid
4. 1969–1970: Establishing a movement
5. 1971–April 1973: Standing the established order on its head
6. April 1973–November 1975: The inter-war years
7. November 1975–June 1977: New Zealand stands alone
8. July 1977–Winter 1981: A country divided against itself
Section Three: October 1981-1996 A closing of the circle
9. 1981–1990: A slow unravelling
10. Looking at ourselves
11. 1990–1996: Building a new relationship
Appendix: The Gleneagles Agreement

Print publication:
Ebook publication: Dec 2018
Pages: 302
RRP: $39.99
ISBN: 9781877242007
ISTC: A02201200002111E
DOI: 10.7810/9781877242007

Search inside


'This is a book of hope. It chronicles the power of ordinary people to defeat complicity in an evil system … It charts a common journey undertaken by New Zealanders and South Africans. Whilst we must not live in the past, we must never allow ourselves to forget what the past was like.' Hon J Zuma, President of South Africa

'Dancing on Our Bones is inspirational stuff, written by a historian who made history and managed to file it away in boxes while he was doing so.' New Zealand Listener

'A highly detailed chronicle of what actually happened, not just in 1981 but throughout the tumultuous conflict. It is also a cautionary tale and one very well told.' Chris Laidlaw

Dancing on Our Bones is a lively and highly readable account of the anti-apartheid movement in New Zealand. It places the intensity of the protests against the 1981 Springbok tour in an historicized context. In doing so the book undermines an apparent nostalgia where the period is seen as a difficult one-off time, a burst of activity the country went through to blowout the cobwebs and become something new. Malcolm MacLean, New Zealand Journal of History, 1999


Montana Award Finalist