Our nuclear-free campaign continues to inspire



Is life with John Key getting you down? Are you losing faith in New Zealanders’ ability to change things? Then I have an inspirational book for you. “Peace, Power and Politics: How New Zealand Became Nuclear Free” by Maire Leadbeater. Just out from Otago University Press.

Our Kiwi anti-nuclear movement never got despondent and eventually got the politicians on board to change our law and make us nuclear free. One of the photos in Maire’s book summed up the spirit: nuclear-free peace walkers are crossing the Huka Falls with a banner reading: “If the people lead the leaders will follow”.

Want to learn about protest tactics? The peace movement has tried most of them in that creative Kiwi way. Many of them turn up in the book, often accompanied by quirky illustrations. There are some 200 photos, cartoons and poster reproductions. You (or someone you know) will probably be in one of the photos.

I was particularly taken with the chapter on the Peace Squadron, which sent out dozens of boats to get in the way of incoming US warships. One of the most dramatic photos in the book is of Stephen Sherie raising his arms in triumph as he runs along the top of the nuclear submarine Haddo in the middle of Auckland harbour. The submarine had already been hit by yellow paint bombs. Peace Squadron leader, the Rev George Armstrong, said that after Sherie hopped onto the sub from his kayak: “He looked puzzled and even pained for a moment. Then a kind of ecstasy dawned upon him. Like Zorba the Greek he began a dance, half of defiance, half of joy, on the very nose of the incoming sub, a nose by this time streaming with yellow radiation-colour paint. The first Auckland newspaper to report the day’s events carried the banner headline: “Boarded – Hot welcome for a yellow submarine.”

Art and music were a big part of the protest movement and it was great that the movement’s troubadours, Jools and Lynda Topp, were able to sing their anti-nuclear anthems at the Dunedin launch of Maire’s book last week.

If you want to celebrate the book’s launch roll up to one of the following events:
Wellington: Wed 20 November, 6pm, St Johns Hall, cnr Dixon and Willis.
Christchurch: Monday, 25 November, 6.30pm, Knox Church Hall, Bealey Ave.
Nelson: Wed. 27 November, 12.30pm. Elma Turner Library, 27 Halifax St.
Auckland: Tues. 10 December, 5.30pm, Mt Eden Village Hall, 449 Mt Eden Rd.

[Disclosure of family bias: Maire Leadbeater is my sister]

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com


  1. “Our nuclear-free campaign continues to inspire”

    Far out. As we used to say, back in the day.

    All joking aside, this book will be a useful resource for the mass movement that is developing against Deep Sea Oil and other dangerous unconventional fossil fuels.

    This book could not have come at a better time. The lesson of history, is that Kiwis can and did stop the biggest and mightiest navy in the world and send them packing. Last year New Zealanders did it again with Petrobras.
    Petrobras will not be back. They have slunk back over the horizon sorry they ever heard of a place called New Zealand. Now it is Andarko’s turn.

    The government know the history and they are afraid. The imposition of new anti-protest laws is not a demonstration of strength but an admission of weakness. The government are worried that their drill it, mine it, frack it programme will fall apart under the pressure of powerful protest action.

    The new laws won’t make a difference.

    Dedicated Kiwis prepared to risk their lives and place their bodies on the line in the path of a drill ship will hardly be intimidated by a two year jail sentence. All that will do is antagonise and mobilise more people.

    The anti-deep sea oil protesters are determined, thousands of Kiwis are mobilising.

    What the government and Andarko fear, is that if this movement continues to build, it can only be a matter of time.

    • God I hope so, and when we have all the real wankers doing the climate crimes together send them to Mars, they obviously don’t deserve and shouldn’t belong to our beautiful precious planet.. Mars should be a colony for the earth killing and climate changing outcasts. I couldn’t think of a better way to use some of the oil they love so much.

      • Hey Kate, do you travel in cars, wear coloured clothing, drink milk, use electronic devices, cut grass, watch TV, use electricity, wear makeup and use soap?
        If you do these and thousands of other things, then you are one of those wankers committing climate crimes.
        GET REAL! Idiots like you are bad for the cause.

  2. jenny..

    ..it may have been somewhat clumsily articulated..

    ..but the commenter has a point..

    ..personally..i find it bordering on surreal..

    ..how people who claim to be ‘green’..to ‘support the environment’..

    ..to self-regard as ethicists/humanists..

    ..and to throw up their hands and gasp in horror @ affronts to their chosen causes-du-jour..

    ..are seemingly so easily able to ignore the huge pachyderm in their issues-room..

    ..namely how they are able to ignore both the environmental-costs..

    ..and the totally inhuman(e) torture/suffering of animals..

    ..just to indulge their desires to chew on flesh and fat..

    ..go fucken figure..!


    phillip ure..

  3. A number of points. Although linked in terms of nuclear fuel for weapons, Nuclear Power and Nuclear weapons were two different issues. In NZ the debate for the most part was seen by the public, bureaucrats and politicians as an issue about nuclear power. The nuclear weapon issue was the real issue as far as the US and to a degree the UK were concerned.
    More than likely 800-1000 nuclear weapons were brought to NZ during the time of Nato and Anzus ship visits. Carriers like the America, Intepid and Shangi La generally carried 100-200 nuclear weapons at the time of Vietnam rest and recreation visits. It must have been very crowded around Mollies and Carmens when the boats came in in the late 1960s and there was probably an insufficiency of hard drugs for the sailors. The issues with large US warships visiting NZ may well have been the reason Mulddon stupidly encourged nuclear sub visits.
    However the idea of nuclear weapons coming to NZ was too esoteric and incredible for most NZers to believe. So Muldoon had some success in saying they wouldn’t.bring them here.
    In NZ with the general public the issue was whether nuclear power was the face of the future. In My view people like Tim Grosser and other MFAT officials were more swayed even then by the fact France, China and India were aggressively favoured nuclear power development as did other European nations with less success in persuading the NZ Public.
    My own view is the collapse of Anzus was due more to a lack of real ideological support for the US and its domestic and foreign affairs policy by MFAT staff. Few in my opinion really supported the the US and with Britain apparently having withdrawn from SE Asia in the early 1970’s ( although RN warships frequently visited our ports until 1983 when Falklands and Nato commitments largely saw the end of any UK military presence except in the Gulf and on the East Afrcian coast) MFAT no longer believed NZ’s military contribution amounted to anything useful to the west. Frank Corner relentlessly bitched than NZ got little from helping the US in Vietnam although Muldoon strongly supported sending the Canberrra’s which part of the reason Marshall (2) hated him. Therefore there was no real modernisation of NZ armed forces during the Muldoon years with few of the most basic updates being made to Frigates and the Orions to keep them up with the least capable ocean nato escorts. There was little desire to update either in line with the RN or USN but limited supported for European purchases of arms to held trade.
    The real issue for the USN and RN was nuclear weapons as the RN had no useful conventional a/s weapons in the early 1980’s ( Tigershark torpedoes failed 5/5 on tests after the Falklands and its predecessor the wire guided Mk 20 had a speed of only 20 knots. Even when operational by the end of the Cold war Tigershark was probably no more effective than the US Mk 37 in the late 60s. In the early 80s the USN Mk 48s were a useful a/s weapon for nuclear subs although as usual copies entered service with communist powers 4 yrs earlier. However for a fast kill USN SSNs depended on Nuclear subroc.

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