The Paua Palace

My royal blog, life, opinions and me, it’s all about ME.. Right?

In the wake of the Rainbow Warrior

Posted by pauaprincess on July 9, 2007

On the 7th of July 1985 the Greenpeace Vessel Rainbow Warrior arrived in Auckland, in order to gather a flotilla of boats to protest French Nuclear Testing on Mururoa Atoll in the Pacific.

the-rainbow-warrior-sinking.jpgOn 10th July  Auckland Harbour, just before midnight two explosive charges attatched to the hull of the  Rainbow Warrior were detonated.  The explosions ripped a hole 18 feet wide in size below the waterline, causing the Rainbow Warrior to sink at it’s mooring.  Of the 12 people on board, 11 escaped.  Photographer Fernando Pereira drowned attempting to retrieve his camera equipment from his cabin.

An investigation by NZ Police, soon led to a yacht called “Ouvea”chartered in Noumea and sailed to the Bay of Islands in NZ, and a honeymooning couple travelling on Swiss passports who were in fact Dominique Prieur and Alan Marfart, serving officers in the French Secret Service, the GCSG.  The Ouvea was tracked to Norfolk Island, under the rule of Habeus Corpus the crew were released, escaped and the Ouvea was never seen again, it is thought to have been scuttled.

French President Francois Mitterand issued a statement on 27th August 1985, fully exonerating the French Secret Service.  The French press remained dissatisfied and continued to press the French Government publically.  Their continued enquiries led to the inescapable conclusion that the French Secret Service had committed the act of terrorism and that the Government of France was responsible for the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in an unprecedented act of revenge for Greenpeace’ successful protests at Mururoa.

Alan Marfart and Dominique Prieur were tried and sentenced with conspiring to commit arson, arson and the manslaughter of Pereira.  Each received a sentence of 10 years for manslaughter and 7 years for arson, to be served at Mt Eden Prison in Auckland.

Pressure was put upon the NZ Government by France, including threat of trade sanctions against our produce, sanctions were in fact being carried out.  The United Nations Secretary General mediated a deal that saw Agents Marfart and Prieur transported to Hao Atoll to finish out their sentences.   As part of the deal, France was forced to pay $13 million to NZ and to issue a public apology.  Thereafter France renewed threats against NZ trade, threatening to work against NZ trade access to the EEC, in less than 3 years and against the wishes of the NZ Government the two agents returned to France at seperate times for “medical reasons”.  At the time the USA and UK, NZ’s two main allies refused to support the NZ Government to pursue justice and prevent trade sanctions against our exports. 

In 1987, New Zealand became the first country in the world to declare itself Nuclear Free.  Even intense American pressure was unable to reverse this, due to the horror  and international injustice New Zealanders felt over the act of terrorism committed in our peaceful harbour and the failure of our allies to condemn the attack.  The ANZUS treaty was condemned by association.

Relations with the USA remain strained due to New Zealands 30 year Nuclear Free policy which is part of it’s legislation.  Nuclear powered vessels and vessels carrying Nuclear armed weapons are banned from port in NZ.

From a Pacific point of view, the Rainbow Warrior affair only served to consolidate the Treaty of Rarotonga, the South Pacific Nuclear free zone treaty.

There are now 39 countries in the world who maintain some form of Nuclear free status.

The relationship with France has healed over time, however, the Rainbow Warrior affair, as it is known, has not and will never be, forgotten.  On the 20 yr anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, it was revealed that former President Mitterand personally signed the order. France has suspended Nuclear testing on Mururoa Atoll.



6 Responses to “In the wake of the Rainbow Warrior”

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