Sport and the New Zealanders: A History

Greg Ryan and Geoff Watson

A history of New Zealanders and the sports that we have made our own, from the Māori world to today’s professional athletes.

‘. . . those two mighty products of the land, the Canterbury lamb and the All Blacks, have made New Zealand what she is in spite of politicians’ claims to the contrary’, wrote Dick Brittenden in 1954. ‘For many in New Zealand, prowess at sport replaces the social graces; in the pubs, during the furious session between 5pm and closing time an hour later, the friend of a relative of a horse trainer is a veritable patriarch. No matador in Madrid, no tenor in Turin could be sure of such flattering attention.’

As Brittenden suggested, sport has played a central part in the social and cultural history of Aotearoa New Zealand throughout its history. This book tells the story of sport in New Zealand for the first time, from the Māori world to today’s professional athletes. Through rugby and netball, bodybuilding and surf lifesaving, the book introduces readers to the history of the codes, the organisations and the players. It takes us into the stands and on to the sidelines to examine the meaning of sport to its participants, its followers, and to the communities to which they belonged.

Why did rugby become much more important than soccer in New Zealand? What role have Māori played in our sporting life? Do we really ‘punch above our weight’ in international sport? Does sport still define our national identity? Viewing New Zealand sport as activity and as imagination, Sport and the New Zealanders is a major history of a central strand of New Zealand life.

 


About the authors

Greg Ryan is a professor and the dean of the Faculty of Environment, Society and Design at Lincoln University. He is the author of The Contest for Rugby Supremacy: Accounting for the 1905 All Blacks (Canterbury University Press, 2005), The Making of New Zealand Cricket: 1832–1914 (Frank Cass, 2003) which won the 2005 Ian Wards Prize, and Forerunners of the All Blacks: The 1888–89 New Zealand Native Football Team in Britain, Australia and New Zealand (Canterbury University Press, 1993).

Geoff Watson is a senior lecturer in history at Massey University. He is the principal author of Seasons of Honour: A Centenary History of New Zealand Hockey 1902–2002 (Dunmore Press, 2002) and one of the editors of Legends in Black: New Zealand Rugby Greats on Why We Win (Penguin, 2014).

August 2018, 240 x 170 mm, 464 pages
ISBN 9781869408831, $65