Paying homage to the legendary Rainbow Warrior

by Aaron Gray-Block

January 10, 2013

The Rainbow Warrior, on her first visit to New Zealand, sails in to Matauri Bay in Northland, where the original Rainbow Warrior, bombed by French secret agents in Auckland, rests on the seabed.

New Zealands Matauri Bay played host today to two Rainbow Warriors, the original and the current Warrior one lying peacefully on the sea bed providing an artificial reef for sea life and the other a gleaming, eco-friendly environmental activist ship.

Captain Joel Stewart speaks onboard the Rainbow Warrior, during the protest vessel's first visit to New Zealand, as she visits Matauri Bay, Northland, January 9 2013, at the resting place of the original Rainbow Warrior, which was bombed by French secret service agents in Auckland in 1985. Ngati Kura, the guardians of the waters where the first Warrior lies, and Greenpeace crew, take part in a whakatau ceremony to welcome the ship.

The ship travelled to Matauri Bay to pay homage to the legend of the original Warrior which was bombed and sunk in Auckland Harbour in 1985.On that tragic day, photographerFernando Pereira was killed by the French government as it sought to shut Greenpeace down for opposing its nuclear weapons testing programme in the Pacific.

It is in Matauri Bay, in New Zealand’sCavalli Islands, 25 years ago, where the original Rainbow Warrior was given its final resting place with a traditional Maori burial.

It is now a living reef, attracting marine life and recreational divers a fitting end for a ship that had spent its time protecting the marine environment.

The Rainbow Warrior III is theworld’s first crowd-funded, hyper-efficient, purpose-built environmental activist ship. Its a far cry from the rusty fishing trawlers that bore the name before and created the legend.

Built primarily to sail, the new Rainbow Warrior, with a length of 58 metres, is powered by five sails on a highly efficient 55 metre high A-Frame mast system, while the hull is designed for maximum fuel conservation.

This new Warrior is Greenpeace’s flagship and is custom-made to take our campaigners to the remote or otherwise inaccessible regions of the world to stop environmental destruction.

Arriving in New Zealand for the first time today, the elders of Ngati Kura, the guardians of this beautiful part of the world, came on board to perform a blessing and to formally welcome the ship and crew.

“We give blessing to this vessel so that wherever it goes you just need to remember Ngati Kura, you just need to remember Matauri Bay and the parental gods will come and be part of your journey into safe keeping,” said Hohepa Epiha, elder from Ngati Kura.

Joel Stewart, the captain of the Rainbow Warrior III answered:

“Matauri Bay is a very important place for us to come back to and connect with our roots.We can learn from you, the Ngati Kura and all the indigenous people from around the world as we build a movement of the Warriors of the Rainbow.Rise up all cultures, all races, all societies, together we can change the way we live on this planet, write a new history and leave the planet in a better state for generations to come.This great ship belongs to the whole world, It was paid for by donations from people all over the Earth now it is all our responsibility to go into the future and carry the tradition of the first Rainbow Warrior and the second Rainbow Warrior and make sure that we protect our mother Earth which is the source and creation of all life.”

As with all Rainbow Warriors, it will not be cowed by government or corporate pressure. It will continue with the defiant and hopeful voyages opposing environmental destruction and providing a beacon of hope.

By Aaron Gray-Block

Aaron Gray-Block is a crisis response campaigner with Greenpeace International.

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