Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


NZ Involvement In Maralinga Atomic Tests

15 May 2001

Further Information On NZ Involvement In Maralinga Atomic Tests

The Minister of Veterans' Affairs Mark Burton this afternoon updated Parliament on the information that has been collated to date regarding New Zealand involvement in the British Atomic Test programme in Australia in the 1950s.

"This information-gathering process is ongoing," Mark Burton said, "and has involved searches of New Zealand archives, direct liaison with British and American officials, and with the University of Dundee researcher Sue Rabbitt-Roff.

"We have established that 5 New Zealand officers were sent to Maralinga in September 1956 to observe British atomic tests, and we have confirmed their identities.

"The involvement of the New Zealanders was never a secret – indeed, it was extensively covered by the newspapers of the time.

"We have established that New Zealand participation was initiated by Defence officials when they learnt that there would be observers at upcoming British atomic tests in Australia.

"New Zealand asked to send up to 20 observers and was offered 5 places.

"It appears that there was little detail about what the observers would actually do at the test site. We do know that at least 2 of the 5 New Zealanders participated in "clothing trials".

"We've also established that 2 New Zealand personnel attended atomic tests at Maralinga the following year. They too have been identified.

"Work continues to establish a full account of the facts," Mark Burton said.

"As a first priority, the Office of Veterans' Affairs will be following up the individual veterans or their families, to establish their circumstances, and to ensure that any appropriate support is available.

"It may also be that the men themselves are able to provide useful information.

"A key outstanding question is the nature of specific activities after the explosions, involving the use of protective clothing, and the degree of informed consent.

"The archival material suggests that personnel were briefed on their tasks and the nature of the hazards to which they might be exposed, and that radiation monitoring was carried out.

"New Zealand authorities were informed at the time that the five New Zealand personnel had all been monitored and that very low levels of radiation exposure were recorded.

"In 1985, a Royal Commission Into British Nuclear Tests in Australia was held, which reviewed the Maralinga testing programme. I have asked officials to check the findings of that Royal Commission.

"We will also have ongoing contact with British and Australian authorities, " Mark Burton said.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>


Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>


Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>


Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>


Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>


Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>


Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>




Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election