The New Zealand tour of the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, will begin with a tribute at the spot its predecessor was sunk after the 1985 bombing that shocked the world.

The Rainbow Warrior is in New Zealand for a tour to celebrate the country’s recent oil exploration ban and promote clean energy opportunities.

In April, New Zealand made international headlines when it became one of the first countries in the world to ban new offshore oil and gas exploration licenses.

The ‘Making Oil History’ tour will begin with a pōwhiri and wreath laying ceremony at Matauri Bay, the final resting place of the original Rainbow Warrior. In 1985, the ship was bombed by the French Secret Service in retaliation for protests against France’s Pacific nuclear testing programme. The bombing killed Greenpeace photographer, Fernando Pereira.

Two years later, New Zealand became the first country in the world to declare itself nuclear free.

In April this year, in the lead up to the offshore oil and gas ban announcement, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern famously labelled climate change her generation’s “nuclear free moment”.

Greenpeace New Zealand Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says the Rainbow Warrior is the link between these two important historic movements.

“In 1987 New Zealand was the first country to stand up to the world’s nuclear powers, and in doing so we became leaders on the biggest global threat of the time. The Rainbow Warrior became part of our national identity, and for the many who still clearly remember the bombing, it’s a symbol of New Zealand’s successful nuclear free movement,” he says.

“This year, we’ve once again become world leaders on what is now the greatest threat of our time. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was right when she called climate change this generation’s nuclear free moment.

“It’s fitting that the Rainbow Warrior has travelled across the world to be here to celebrate New Zealand’s bold action on climate change – action only made possible by a decade-long movement against oil, hundreds of thousands of people strong.”

From Matauri Bay, the Rainbow Warrior will travel around the country, stopping in centres including Auckland, Napier, Whangaparaoa Bay, Wellington, Kaikōura, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Stewart Island.

As well as celebrating the oil win, Greenpeace and the Rainbow Warrior crew will be holding events about New Zealand’s transition to clean energy.