Commemoration, Peace, and Action in Auckland and Paris

Feature story - July 10, 2005
It was twenty years ago that two explosions sank our flagship, Rainbow Warrior, and killed our photographer, Fernando Pereira. To mark this anniversary, we brought original crewmembers and new activists together to pay tribute to a colleague killed and a boat bombed, in two ceremonies: one in Matauri Bay, New Zealand, and the other in Paris.

500 Greenpeace volunteers create a human peace sign in the Esplanade Tracodéro to commemorate the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior.

On July 10, 1985, two explosions on the Warrior rocked WaitemataHarbour in Auckland. They were planted by the French Government, in anattempt to stifle Greenpeace's protests against the French nucleartesting programme in the Pacific.

20 years later, inMatauri Bay, original skipper Pete Willcox dived 25 metres down to thewreck and placed a memorial sculpture on the bridge, as around 100people gathered on the boat cast flowers and greenery on the water.

In Paris, more than 500 activists from 21 countries formed a humanrainbow and peace sign in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, among themGrace O´Sullivan, of the original crew.

"When the warrior wentdown and our friend Fernando was killed," she told her colleagues, "Iwas under tremendous pressure from my family to return home. Theydidn´t want me to stay in New Zealand, or to work for Greenpeace.Working for Greenpeace now involved a risk that none of us had everanticipated.  But all of us on the crew were totally committed toend this madness of nuclear proliferation, and within six weeks PeterWillcox and I were on another ship, sailing toward the test site atMoruroa to oppose the French programme."

(You can hear an audio feed of Grace speaking in this "Podcast for Peace")

Crew member and campaigner in 1985, Steve Sawyer, whose birthday wasbeing celebrated on the night of the bombing, urged world leaders tojoin New Zealand and the 39 other countries which have declaredthemselves nuclear-free, and to stop wasting vast amounts of money andintelligence on more sophisticated nuclear weapons. Those resources, heargued, would better be used to promote peace, combat climatechange  and preserve the world's forests and oceans.

"Todaywe are facing a bigger nuclear threat as an ever increasing number ofstates continue their development of nuclear weapons." 

"We also face aglobal crisis as serious and devastating as any nuclear threat: climatechange. We only have a decade or two to begin in earnest thetransformation of our global energy system, or heat waves, droughts,floods, rising sea-levels and widespread famine and disease willoverwhelm us just as surely as the mushroom cloud," said Sawyer.

The peace symbol and rainbow in Paris was created by more than 500activists, half of them French, half of them from around theworld.  Among them were young American students who are workingwith Greenpeace to promote clean energy use on their campuses,volunteers from the UK and Netherlands, and activists who have sailedor walked into nuclear weapons test zones, blocked nuclear shipments,and taken action around the world for peace and a cleanenvironment.  "The message today is about three things: it´s aboutcommemoration, it´s about peace, and it´s about taking action." saidMike Townsley. "No bomb is acceptable -- not on the Rainbow Warrior,not in London, not in Baghdad, not in Hiroshima. We can bomb the worldto pieces, but we can´t bomb it into peace."

Send a message of Peace

The mission of the Rainbow Warrior continues. Be a part of it. Peace is possible. Spread the word.

Follow the Rainbow: Join Greenpeace today

The Rainbow Warrior continues to sail only so long as we have your support. Please donate whatever you can to create a future without nuclear weapons.

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