Anniversary of sinking
Twenty-five years ago two French agents coordinated the bombing of the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior in Waitemata Harbour, a tragedy in which Portuguese-Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira drowned. The attack on the ship was remembered in Auckland this month with a grave commemoration and the opening of an exhibition in Whangarei. In Poland’s Gdansk shipyard, a ceremony was also held for the keel-laying of Rainbow Warrior 3, which will be primarily powered by sail. The captain of the first Rainbow Warrior, Peter Willcox, attended the keel-laying in Gdansk, where participants laid a wreath in memory of Pereira. The bombing reinforced powerfully New Zealand’s sense that it had been right to ban nuclear-powered or armed ships, and gave a massive global fillip to the profile of Greenpeace – which was then using Rainbow Warrior as its flagship to interrupt French underground nuclear testing on Mururoa atoll in French Polynesia. It also marked the desultory end of significant European power-plays in the Australasian region. Nuclear testing in the Pacific was halted and although testing was briefly resumed in 1995, its days were numbered.