Nuclear-free New Zealand

Where can I find information about the nuclear-free movement in New Zealand?

Entry last updated: 18/09/17

Introduction

New Zealand is a nuclear-free zone, which means no nuclear weapons or nuclear powered ships are allowed in our territory. Find out how New Zealanders protested to make sure we were nuclear-free, and how incidents like the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior impacted on the nuclear-free movement.

Nuclear testing in the Pacific

After World War Two, there was frequent testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific Ocean. in addition, in 1951 New Zealand signed the ANZUS treaty, which put New Zealand under the protection of the United States and meant that the United States could use nuclear weapons if New Zealand was attacked.

NZHistory

This is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa.

  1. For a good introduction to this topic, go to Politics and Government.
  2. Then have a look under the heading Protest and Reform for the link to Nuclear-Free New Zealand.
  3. Check out the second page which is all about Nuclear testing in the Pacific.

There is also information on the ANZUS treaty on this website. The best way to find it is to use the search box at the top of the page and enter the keyword 'ANZUS', then look through the results.

Tips: 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

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

To learn more about ANZUS and nuclear testing in the Pacific is it a good idea to look at how these things effected New Zealand's relationship with other countries. Te Ara has some great information about the nuclear-free 1980s and the end of ANZUS, and how this affected our relationship with the United States, and Australia.

To find it, search using the keywords 'nuclear testing pacific'.

  • Try the Nuclear-free 1980s entry. This is part of the United States and New Zealand story that gives plenty of information about New Zealand's relationship with the United States.
  • Another useful result is Pacific Islands and New Zealand, part of the New Zealand and the World story, which mentions nuclear testing in the Pacific and the creation of the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty in August 1985.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Archives New Zealand

If you are looking for primary sources, you can read the actual ANZUS treaty on Archives New Zealand's website.

  • Select the Exhibitions and Events tab along the top of the page.
  • Now choose Walter's World: the Nash collection and at the bottom of the page, click view it online
  • Then go to the album New Zealand and scroll down to Treaties and Organisations.
  • There are lots of treaties here including the original ANZUS treaty.
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 .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

Anti-nuclear protests

New Zealand protested against nuclear testing in the Pacific, even though our defense agreements, like ANZUS, meant we had to engage with nuclear weapons in other ways. To find out more about anti-nuclear protests, check out these sites.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara has a page all about protests and parades, including anti-nuclear protests.

To find it:

  1. from the homepage, scroll down to the section called Economy and the City
  2. now choose The City
  3. then go to Parades and protest marches, which covers a lot of different protests including Anti-nuclear protesting.

NZHistory

  • For a good introduction click on Politics and Government.
  • Then have a look under the heading Protest and Reform for the link to Nuclear-Free New Zealand.
  • Check out the page about Ship Visits to see how public opinion about nuclear warships was starting to change.

Greenpeace New Zealand

Greenpeace is an international group that campaigns for protecting the natural environment. One of the issues they focus on is being nuclear-free, and they have some information about the history of the anti-nuclear movement here in New Zealand.

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.

New Zealand Geographic Archive

This is one of the EPIC resources. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. There are a couple of articles in here about nuclear-free New Zealand.

  1. Use the keywords ‘Nuclear-free’ to search and have a look through the results.
  2. One good one is about New Zealand's involvement in the Moruroa Protest in 1995.
  3. Another is The Sword of Damocles: New Zealand has a nuclear reaction which is about the USS Halibut, an atomic-powered submarine that visited Wellington Harbour in 1960.
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.

Te Papa Tongarewa

Te Papa museum has a whole section of its website devoted to 20th century history resources, including a section on Nuclear-Free New Zealand. This page has some information about what was going on in the world that led to the decision to become nuclear-free, and includes lots of related images.

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 .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

Nuclear-free legislation

Anti-nuclear public opinion eventually led to nuclear-free laws. New Zealand's prime minister at the time, David Lange, banned nuclear powered or nuclear armed ships from entering New Zealand waters. Find out about the politics and people behind this legislation.

NZHistory

  • For a good introduction click on Politics and Government.
  • Then have a look under the heading Protest and Reform for the link to Nuclear-Free New Zealand.
  • Check out the page about Nuclear-free legislation.

NZHistory also has some great biographies about people involved with anti-nuclear New Zealand. This is at the bottom of the Nuclear-free legislation page under the heading Related to nuclear-free New Zealand. One of these biographies is David Lange, one of the key figures.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is also a great place to look for biographies of famous New Zealanders, like David Lange. To find his biography on this website:

  • Click on the Biographies tab along the top of the page
  • Choose the letter L, for his last name, Lange.
  • Then click on his name, David Russell Lange.

Nuclear-free New Zealand - NZOnScreen

Here is a great collection of videos about the people and policies behind going nuclear-free.

  • The clips are from several different decades so you can see how different eras viewed nuclear testing and nuclear-free New Zealand.
  • There are short films, funny commercials, music videos made as protests, and full-length television programmes.

30 years nuclear-free New Zealand

Christchurch City Libraries hosts a series of podcasts about different issues. This one is about the NZ Nuclear-free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987 and its impact and repercussions. You can either listen to the podcast or read a transcript.

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.

New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987

In 1987 this act came into power, which made New Zealand's sea, land and air space all nuclear-free zones. You can read the legislation itself here on the New Zealand Legislation website.

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 .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

The Rainbow Warrior

One of the most significant events of the nuclear-free movement was the bombing and sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace ship.

NZHistory

  • For a good introduction click on Politics and Government.
  • Then have a look under the heading Protest and Reform for the link to Nuclear-Free New Zealand.
  • Check out the page about Sinking the Rainbow Warrior.

Greenpeace New Zealand

Greenpeace has lots of information on their webpage: the Bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. Remember to check out the links on the side of the page to take you to more information.

Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more.

DigitalNZ

DigitalNZ is a search site that focuses on New Zealand history and brings together results from lots of different websites. It’s an easy way of searching online resources from New Zealand libraries, museums, universities and government sites all at once, and has lots of primary sources.

  • Use the keywords 'Rainbow Warrior' to search for images, audio, video and more about the Rainbow Warrior.
  • The results are grouped by the type of information, like images, videos, newspapers, articles and research papers.

Rainbow Warrior bombing - Christchurch City Libraries

Christchurch City Libraries has a page about the Rainbow Warrior, with information about what happened, books to read, and other recommended sites to check out for more information.

Tips: We like this site because it's a public library, so all the information has been written and researched by librarians and it will be reliable.

Articles and newspapers

Many public libraries will have old New Zealand newspapers in their collection, so you can read newspaper articles from the time. You can also find more recent newspaper articles with information and viewpoints about the nuclear-free issue today.

findNZarticles

You can use this website to search for newspaper articles, and then check with your local public library to see how to find a copy of the newspaper. You can filter your results down by date, or by article type, down the left hand side of the page.

Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre

This is one of the EPIC resources, a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. This particular database has lots of newspaper and magazine articles, and is a good place to explore issues from a New Zealand perspective.

  • Search for keywords from your topic, eg 'nuclear-free', 'anti-nuclear protest' or 'rainbow warrior'.
  • Limit your results to Full Text to find articles you can read online.
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.

Books

Try these books, or ask your school librarian or local librarian for more recommendations:

SCIS no: 1834458

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