Rare opportunity to climb aboard the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland

Press release - July 20, 2015
Kiwis will have the chance to come aboard one of the world’s most famous ships this weekend during two free public open days.

Open day times can be found here.

Sailing Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior into Auckland’s Princes Wharf tomorrow will be Captain Peter Willcox, the skipper at the helm of the original Rainbow Warrior when it was sunk 30 years ago on July 10, 1985 by French secret service agents.

Under orders from their government, the agents exploded two bombs on the ship’s hull, sinking the ship and murdering Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira, who died in his cabin.

The intention of this act of state-sanctioned terrorism was to silence protests about nuclear testing in the Pacific, but the plan backfired and served to further ignite the Kiwi spirit of standing up and being counted.

Bunny McDiarmid, now the Executive Director of Greenpeace NZ, was a crew member on the Rainbow Warrior in 1985.

“You can’t bomb the courage of millions of people,” she says. “People everywhere started wearing badges saying, ‘You can’t sink a Rainbow’ – the campaign for a world free of nuclear weapons just became a whole country stronger.  NZ passed nuclear free legislation in 1987, and the French stopped nuclear testing in French Polynesia in 1996.”

A second Rainbow Warrior ship was used by Greenpeace after the bombing until her retirement in 2011, and now works as a hospital ship along the coast of Bangladesh. She was replaced by a new state-of-the-art ship that is a purpose-built campaigning vessel and one of the most environmentally-friendly ships sailing the seas.

Tomorrow will be the first time in more than two years that this ship has visited New Zealand.

To mark the occasion, on Saturday July 25 and Sunday July 26 between 9am and 4pm, Greenpeace will be holding two “open boats” and inviting the public to climb aboard, meet the crew and have a look inside.

The visit also marks the beginning of a new Greenpeace campaign: Out of control fishing is now one of the biggest threats to the livelihoods of many Pacific communities, and the fishing methods being used risk serious long-term damage to tuna stocks in the Pacific.

In the coming months, Greenpeace and the Rainbow Warrior will be sailing to areas known for illegal and destructive fishing in order to put this industry under greater scrutiny by exposing what is happening far out at sea.

McDiarmid says a change in fishing practices and a different approach to our oceans must happen before it is too late, and telling people about what is going on out there is an important part of bringing about that change.