I mentioned in my post of yesterday that I would share what my sis and I got up to on Sunday morning before we visited the art gallery.
You may have heard about the World March For Peace And Non-Violence which is starting in Wellington, NZ on October 2 and travelling around the globe for 90 days ending in the Andes Mountains in Argentina on January 2, 2010. The march is about raising awareness of how much better life could be if some of the international arms budget went toward improving people’s lives instead of for destruction. It is also about denouncing the dangerous world situation that is leading us frighteningly closer to nuclear war.
In Auckland yesterday morning, a precursor event was planned to help welcome the international contingent of marchers. The event kicked off in QEII square at 10am with a walk around the city’s peace heritage sites to be followed by a rally with music and speeches until mid afternoon. At one stage I was marching beside a famous Aucklander Lucy Lawless – she’s tall and friendly. She’s hot too, even without the Xena costume.
Though my sister and I weren’t sure what route was planned around the city, we knew we wanted to be involved but without staying for the whole thing (we care but just not enough to march all day). Thankfully just before lunch time the march was at Albert Park, a block away from the art gallery so we discretely slipped off to indulge in some Rita Angus.
Check out the international website for more information about the March for Peace. Join in if any events are close to you.
I was chatting to an American friend the other night on the phone and I mentioned that New Zealand is an avowedly nuclear free zone. My friend hadn’t known this and was surprised – maybe there are others who weren’t aware of this?
It all started with the dastardly French who were testing their nukes in our backyard in the south Pacific. They conducted 41 atmospheric nuclear tests at Mururoa atoll between 1966 and 1974 before they moved underground for a further 147 tests until the early 90s. In a symbolic act of protest in 1973 the New Zealand government sent two navy frigates, HMNZS Canterbury and Otago, into the test zone area to disrupt the testing. Huge impromptu flotillas of what became known as peace yachts accompanied the frigates. These protests were supported by large contingents of environmental groups such as Greenpeace.
In 1985 in an act of retaliation for all the hassle over the years, French saboteurs entered NZ and blew up the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior which was berthed at an Auckland wharf. A man sleeping on board was killed.
We were horrified. This act of international terrorism served to galvanise the views of ordinary New Zealanders and resulted in the passing of the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987. All forms of nuclear generation were disallowed and nuclear powered or armed vessels were no longer permitted to enter our 22 kilometre (12 mile) zone.
Over the years it has certainly made for some very uncomfortable conversations with the US as their policy of neither confirming nor denying any vessel is nuclear powered and/or armed means that we disallow them all. It’s a weird situation and it puts us on the outer with our ‘friends’ though a referendum here a few years ago showed that for better or worse the large majority of kiwis want to keep the status quo. A nuclear free zone we remain after 22 years.