New Zealand: Ready and Waiting

Feature story - 5 January, 2007
As the Esperanza heads for Auckland, the Greenpeace New Zealand team are eagerly awaiting her arrival. With the ship comes old friends and colleagues, from New Zealand and around the world. Carol in our New Zealand office reflects on the shared history of Greenpeace and her country.

The Rainbow Warrior and the Esperanza united earlier in the expedition.

It's the first time the Esperanza has visited New Zealand, so we'll all be down at Princes Wharf in Waitemata Harbour, Auckland to meet her, and we have a traditional Maori welcome prepared. We've all been singing during our summer break, practising the waiata (song) to formally welcome the crew to our beautiful shores.

We're ready for a busy couple of weeks; holding open days for the public, helping to prepare the ship for the Southern Ocean, and sharing stories with the crew of love, life and sailing the high seas.

As we prepare for another summer of doing our damndest to stop whaling in the Southern Ocean Sanctuary, and working closely with Greepeace Japan, we also find ourselves reflecting on our history of campaigning at sea.

As the stories start, so do the tears and laughter; remembering the villains and sharing memories of heroes.

Even before Greenpeace New Zealand was officially founded, Kiwis went to sea to protect our environment, sailing with David McTaggart on the yacht Vega to French Polynesia to protest against nuclear testing in the early 1970's, and the many peace flotillas to the test site at Moruroa since.

In the past  three years, volunteers and staff have battled high seas on the Rainbow Warrior II to bring attention to bottom trawling, determined to stop this destructive fishing method.

From the poignancy of the voices recalling the original Rainbow Warrior, I realise she is never far from our minds, and she is embedded in our history - not just Greenpeace's, but also New Zealand's.

Not long after the bombing, New Zealand became nuclear free - and this year we'll be celebrating the 20th anniversary of that historic legislation.  

We've also recently commemorated 20 years since the Antarctic campaign, when another Greenpeace ship, the Gondwana, sailed regularly from New Zealand to the ice, campaigning successfully to achieve a world park there.  

As we envisage the Esperanza sailing through the Pacific Islands, pictures of the Rainbow Warrior, and all her journeys through the Islands come to mind. Thankfully we still have some of her crew among us, sharing their stories and their insights.

When the Rainbow Warrior was bombed by the French in 1985, it tore a hole in our hearts, but it did not diminish our passion or stop us returning to the sea.

I wonder if there has ever been a time when there wasn't a Kiwi aboard at least one of the Greenpeace ships, young and spirited, craving adventure, and with a fire in their belly to protect our environment and defend our oceans.

Haere mai Esperanza - we're ready.

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