Western Leader : January 6th 2011
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This month will be no different. The family day from 11am to 5pm on Sunday will feature Elvis entertainers, family fun, classic cars and lots of memorabilia. Parking is available in Tui Glen park. Documentary maker: Cam Cooley is working on a project about the 1981 Springbok Tour.Doco maker retells a strange Kiwi tale By TUREI MACKEY ' It has evolved and become this full feature documentary. I didn't realise how deep into the New Zealand psyche I would be tapping. ' Cam Cooley, filmmaker It was a violent con- clusion to a tumultuous piece of New Zealand history. Yet many people today have little, if any, know- ledge of the clown bashing at the end of the 1981 Springbok Tour. It s a moment in time which has intrigued film- maker Cam Cooley and he is determined to get it on film. He is working on a documentary called Batons and Baguettes which follows the events that unfolded on Sept- ember 12, 1981. Eight university students dressed as clowns, bunny rabbits and a bumblebee appeared during one of the last protests of the controversial rugby tour. They carried baguettes and offered lollies to police officers, adding humour to an otherwise tense situation. The day ended with three of them being beaten by riot police on Dominion Rd in Mt Eden after a riot broke out on neighbouring Onslow Rd.Those injured took civil action against the police and received a $10,000 payout in 1984. The officers involved in the beating were not identified. If Mr Cooley can gather the funding he hopes to have the project completed by next year -- the 30th anniversary of the tour. Originally from the United States, the Mt Eden resident says he never intended to make an in-depth telling of the incident. It was going to be a low-budget short film based on the true events, he says. Now it has evolved and become this full fea- ture documentary. I didn t realise how deep into the New Zea- land psyche I would be tapping. The actor, writer and director has acted in Shortland Street, Xena and The World s Fastest Indian. He moved to New Zea- land in 1997. In 1981 I would have been a 15-year-old living outside of Chicago who wouldn t have even known New Zealand existed let alone the events unfolding there. But when I heard about it nearly six years ago it suited my style of storytelling. The 44-year-old has taken on the role of an investigative journalist, collecting every bit of information about the fateful day. I am very proud of my research. I have acquired photographs that have never been seen by the public, I have tracked down all the clowns and other people surrounding the immediate story, he says. He is reluctant to reveal all his information and wouldn t confirm whether he has talked to the police -- he wants to keep surprises for his film and protect his sources. He says finding the clowns was a challenge. Fortunately in New Zealand it is a case of two degrees, he says. So in some cases it hasn t been too hard to find them but with others it has taken years because they live over- seas. Mr Cooley says the clowns were amazed at his knowledge of their whereabouts that day -- beginning at Fowlds Park and ending on Dominion Rd. He tracked their movements using the photos at his disposal and put together a timeline of the moments leading up to the bashing. I would study the photos and find a point of reference to help me track where they were. For one particular photo a chimney was my only point of reference. I literally walked up and down the streets of Mt Eden for months looking for that chim- ney. Mr Cooley says his documentary is not about finger-pointing but rather telling the story of ordinary people who thought they were doing the right thing. People wonder why I want to focus on the last three victims of the tour. Their beating serves as a very bizarre punctu- ation mark on this period in history. It was absolute insanity -- violence, chaos, division and at the end of all this a few clowns were beaten up. New Zealand police declined to comment.
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