Rainbow Warrior bombing 1985

Where can I find information about the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior?

Senior Secondary

(Years 11-13)

Colour photo from 1985 of the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior, docked in Auckland, New Zealand.

Image: Rainbow Warrior by Ot on Wikimedia Commons.

Entry last updated: 28/06/23


On 10 July 1985, explosions on board the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior sunk the ship in the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland. The ship had just taken part in protests against French nuclear testing in the Pacific and was about to leave on another campaign at Mururoa Atoll in the Tuamotu Archipelago. A photographer was killed in the second explosion when he went to get some equipment after the first explosion. Two French Secret Service agents were arrested and charged with murder.

This was the first time an act of international state-sponsored terrorism had happened in New Zealand waters.

New Zealand websites

These New Zealand sites have information about why the Rainbow Warrior sunk and who was responsible.


NZHistory is a great website for information about events, people and places in New Zealand's history. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Enter 'Rainbow Warrior' in the search box.

  • Select the article Sinking the Rainbow Warrior. This story has links on the right side of the page that explains the connection between nuclear testing in the Pacific and the sinking of the ship.

  • The article Rainbow Warrior sunk by French Secret Agents has information about the plan to sink the Rainbow Warrior.

  • Remember to explore the links at the end of each page for other sites with information about the bombing.

Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .govt or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

New Zealand Geographic Online

New Zealand Geographic is part of the EPIC collection of databases that have been specially put together for New Zealand students. It has lots of articles on the history, society and culture of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Australia New Zealand Reference Centre Plus

This EPIC database will help you access full text articles from New Zealand and Australian magazines and newspapers all in one place.

Tips: Australia New Zealand reference Centre Plus has heaps of ways of refining results. Explore them to narrow your searches according to your needs.

Greenpeace Aotearoa

Greenpeace is an independent, global environmental campaigning organisation. The first Rainbow Warrior was one of their ships.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Sound and video

These sites have sound clips and videos about the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.

Radio New Zealand

This government-owned site has three national networks to relay up-to-date news, current affairs, sport, politics, business etc in New Zealand and around the world.

There are two podcasts you can listen to about the bombing. They both feature David Robie, an author and academic, who spent weeks on the ship shortly before it was attacked.

Tips: Some websites have .au, .nz, .uk or other codes in their url. This can tell you which country this website comes from eg .au is from Australia or .nz is from New Zealand. You can check the About Us link on the website for more information.


This site also has photos and sound clips.

  • Enter 'Rainbow Warrior' in the search box.

  • Choose Images and Media.

  • Select the photo or sound clip you want to look at or listen to.

  • The sound clip Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior has radio coverage of the sinking in 1985. It also has a transcript so you can read it while you listen.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara also has videos about the Rainbow Warrior.

NZ On Screen

This site is the online showcase of New Zealand television, film and music videos. It is useful for NZ history inquiries needing primary source or multimedia information.

  • Enter 'Rainbow Warrior' into the search box.

  • Choose The Rainbow Warrior Affair that screened in 1986. It explores the incident and its fallout.

  • When A Warrior Dies is a documentary about the crime committed, and the creation of a sculpture to mark the final resting place of the ship.

  • Child of the Rainbow Warrior is a documentary following the daughter of the photographer killed in the bombing.

Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

This site is funded by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and is New Zealand’s audio-visual archive. Their collection includes film and television, radio and sound recordings, props, posters and more from over 120 years of New Zealand’s history.

  • Enter 'Rainbow Warrior' into the search box.

  • Make sure to select Available Online and then Apply filters to get content that you can access.

  • The Rainbow Warrior story is a collection of news clips from the 1986 1ZB News Team, from Radio New Zealand, Auckland radio programme about the bombing.


There are lots of books about the Rainbow Warrior bombing. Check with your school or local public library to see what they have.

Here are some recommended titles:

SCIS no. 5414567

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