In the 30 years that the Rainbow Warrior has sailed the oceans of the world it has touched the hearts of many but, perhaps more than anywhere, it is here in NZ that the Warrior is most loved.

The Rainbow Warrior in NZ 2005 (C) Greenpeace / Walsh

After working in Indonesia late last year the Rainbow Warrior is now in New Zealand undergoing some repairs and getting a new coat of paint at the Whangarei shipyard. We'll keep tabs on progress here over the coming weeks but first -- a little history.

Whangarei Jan 08The current Rainbow Warrior was launched on 10 July 1989 after the original vessel was bombed and sunk in 1985 by agents of the French government here in the Waitamata. The sinking claimed the life of Fernando Pereira, the onboard photographer.

The French intended to foil Greenpeace protests of their nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. The plan backfired, sparking worldwide outrage, and the rebuilt ship proved that "you can't sink a rainbow" when it returned to battle successfully against the testing programme. Nuclear testing ended at Moruroa in 1996.

The Rainbow Warrior Sunk in AucklandThe ship's name was inspired by a North American Indian prophecy which foretells a time when human greed will make the Earth sick, and a mythical band of warriors will descend from a rainbow to save it.

Over the years the Rainbow Warrior's decks have been graced by the Dalai Llama and members of the rock band U2. She has challenged environmental crimes, relocated the population of a South Pacific Island contaminated by radiation, provided disaster relief to victims of the 2004 Tsunami in South East Asia, and sailed against whaling, war, global warming, and other environmental crimes on every ocean of the world. It has been to NZ many times most recently in 2004 and 2005 to work on the deep sea bottom trawling campaign and for the 20th anniversary of the bombing.

Rainbow Warrior Crew 1985Arguably, the Rainbow Warrior's greatest moments were in her decades-long struggle to end nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific. Despite being rammed, bombed, and subject to every form of intimidation and opposition imaginable, she carried on the fight for a nuclear-free Pacific and won.


on the rainbow warrior