128 years of The Press online: 1980 to 1989 now added to Papers Past

Good news! Fans of news, information, primary sources, local history, and all things Ōtautahi Christchurch! The Press on Papers Past now goes up to 31 December 1989. It's now that much easier to explore the big news stories, dramas, and hot topics of the 1980s.

Prince Charles visits Christchurch

13 April 1981: As Prince Charles stands to attention, the Prince of Wales’ personal standard is broken out during the Royal Salute at the Airport yesterday 

Prince Charles (now King Charles III) visited Christchurch 10 to 12 April in 1981 and there are several interviews with "common folk" around the country who got to interact with him including cabaret entertainer, Lin Waldegrave, who gave the Prince a peck on the cheek. The Prince had become engaged to Lady Diana Spencer a couple of months earlier so there was much excitement at the time about the upcoming royal wedding in July of that year (and at which New Zealand opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa would perform).

The Springbok Tour

15 August 1981: Springboks slip into Chch and ‘hide’ before test

The controversy surrounding the Springbok tour of 1981 meant there were added security concerns and much interest about the movements of the team around the country. Also, in this particular article, racism against "Arabs" for some reason? Ugh, 1980s, we don't miss you.

Protests of various kinds occurred around the country including Dunedinites attempting to keep the players awake at night in their hotel by making lots of noise.

Tornado hits Halswell

20 January 1983: Freak storm blasts roofs from homes in Halswell

On 19 January 1983 a tornado wreaked havoc on the suburb of Halswell, tearing roofs from houses with Kinrara Place particulary badly affected.

John Walker's sub-four minute mile

17 December 1984: John Walker (Auckland) at the end of his outstanding sub-4min mile run at Queen Elizabeth II Park on Saturday evening

On 16 December 1984 John Walker became the first person to run a sub four minute mile in Canterbury at QEII Park. This run was part of his goal to be the first person to run 100 sub four minute miles, a landmark he achieved in February the following year. Walker was one of New Zealand's most high-profile sportspeople at this time.

The Rainbow Warrior bombing

12 July 1985: Limpet mines probably used to sink ship

The Greenpeace ship, The Rainbow Warrior, was sabotaged by French agents at its Auckland mooring on 10 July 1985. A member of the crew, Fernando Pereira, was aboard at the time and was killed. A pair of French agents, Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart, were arrested on 24 July and later received 10 year sentences for manslaughter (though neither served their full sentences). Relations between New Zealand and France were very badly impacted by this deadly espionage and the resulting diplomatic and economic pressure from France to release the agents. 

The Bone People wins the Booker

2 November 1985: Book honour stuns Keri Hulme

It was front page news when the sometime whitebaiter from Okarito (but also Writer-in-Residence at Canterbury University), Keri Hulme won the world's most prestigious English-language literary award for The bone people. Local institution, Scorpio Books seized on the opportunity, subsequently advertising copies of the novel.

Te Māori exhibition a crowd-pleaser

16 March 1987: Te Maori comes home to the people of Canterbury

The travelling exhibition of Māori cultural art and artefacts had been hugely successful when it toured the US. But how would New Zealanders receive it?

Enthusiastically, as it turns out. It's hard to overstate what a cultural milestone this was in terms of assigning a visibility and value to Māori culture. The exhibition gained rave reviews and 16,000 visitors in its first 10 days at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in the Botanic Gardens.

(The advertisement on the page below also offers a glimpse of the latest 80s fashions!)

New Zealand to get a third TV channel

4 September 1989: Get ready for TV3 sports!

For many years choice in the form of television programming, for New Zealanders meant either channel 1 or 2, both supplied by TVNZ. In 1989 a new player joined the game when TV3 launched on 27 November of that year. The Press ran a number of advertisements from various different companies offering to help people tune their televisions (something they were unaccustomed to doing) so they could receive the third channel.

Other big news stories of the 1980s

And let's not forget... the fashion.

Find out more

  • Visit Papers Past to view digitised full-text New Zealand and Pacific newspapers, magazines and journals, books, and other formats.
  • View The Press online 1861 to 1989

The Press is digitised by the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. with the support of Christchurch City Libraries and Stuff Ltd.