'A democratic game'
- Date: Tuesday, 10 October, 2017
Free, koha appreciated
Te Ahumairangi (ground floor), National Library, corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets
- Contact Details:
For more information, email ATLOutreach@dia.govt.nz
Rugby league, community identity and cultural pride in New Zealand
A Friends of the Turnbull Library talk
Recipient of this year’s Friends of the Turnbull Library Research Grant, Auckland historian Ryan Bodman will discuss some insights from his research into the social and cultural history of rugby league in working-class communities in New Zealand.
In New Zealand, as elsewhere, the game of rugby league survived in the face of sustained antagonism from rugby union administrators and their allies. Speaking to the English context, Phil Melling and Tony Collins have suggested that a key strength in league's resistance was the game's ability to draw in others who also felt a sense of alienation from the established order. This assessment is evident in New Zealand, where a number of marginalised communities developed close associations with rugby league throughout the 1920s and 30s.
At this time, working-class communities, Kiingitanga Māori and Irish Catholics embraced rugby league as an expression of community identity, cultural pride and collective defiance against rugby union's ongoing hostility. As a result, some observers began to describe league as 'a democratic game' and this talk explores the realities and limitations of this description in the context of inter-war New Zealand.
Rugby League match between St George and Wellington Watersiders, 1959. Ref: EP/1959/2118-2119-1-F.