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Making Aotearoa Nuclear Free: Hone Harawira

New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act 1987
Hone Harawira; Maori Party
Disarmament and Arms Control Spokesperson
Tuesday 12 June: Urgent Debate /Notice of Motion

Making Aotearoa Nuclear Free: Hone Harawira

Mr Speaker, I am proud to stand here today on behalf of the Maori Party, to honour all those who worked so hard to make Aotearoa Nuclear Free, many years ago.

Thanks

And in doing so, I wish to honour Labour Cabinet Minister and Tai Tokerau MP, the honourable Matiu Rata, who sailed with a fleet of yachts to Mururoa Atoll to protest French Nuclear Testing in the Pacific. A Cabinet Minister, and a Maori one at that; sailing into a nuclear-testing zone. Me mihi ki a ia.

I express my thanks to my Pacific cousins for their strength and their support dating back more than 30 years to the Conferences for a Nuclear Free Pacific in Fiji in 1975; and Ponape in 1978.

I also remember the sterling efforts of people like my mum and others who fought to broaden the scope of those conferences, so that by 1983, the Conference in Vanuatu produced the People's Charter for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific, which stated:

"We, the people of the Pacific have been victimized too long by foreign powers. The Western imperialistic and colonial powers invaded our defenceless region, they took over our lands and subjugated our people to their whims.

This form of alien colonial, political and military domination unfortunately persists as an evil cancer in some of our native territories such as Tahiti-Polynesia, New Caledonia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Our environment continues to be despoiled by foreign powers developing nuclear weapons for a strategy of warfare that has no winners, no liberators and imperils the survival of all humankind.

We note in particular the recent racist roots of the world's nuclear powers and we call for an immediate end to the oppression, exploitation and subordination of the indigenous people of the Pacific."

I am also reminded that the call for a Nuclear Free Pacific came at the same time as the Maori Land March of 1975; a natural connection arising out of colonisation, land confiscation, environmental destruction, and nuclear war. 

And I note that Maori have always had a strong presence in the fight for a Nuclear Free Aotearoa, including Matiu Rata, Nganeko Minhinnick, Pauline Tangiora, Grace and Sharon Robertson, and my own wife Hilda Halkyard amongst many others.

Pacific People's Anti-Nuclear Action Committee

Indeed it was not long after the first National Black Women's Hui held in Tau Henare's home town of Otara in 1980, that the Pacific People's Anti-Nuclear Action Committee was set up by Hilda Halkyard-Harawira and Grace Robertson, with no money but their own, no resources save those they could appropriate, a tiny office at Kokiri te Rahuitanga ki Otara, and attitude to burn.

PPANAC's goals were based on the Peoples Charter for a Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific, and in 1980 PPANAC hostedTe Hui Oranga o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa, at Tatai Hono Marae in Auckland.

At that time, Tatai Hono was home base to the notorious Anglican activist, the Reverend Hone Kaa; stayover for people involved in Bastion Point occupations; launching pad for He Taua, the War Party that in sixty seconds ended decades of racist abuse at Auckland University; theatre for indigenous performances like Maranga Mai; debating chamber for the Waitangi Action Committee; meeting place for the PATU Squad during the Springbok Tour Trials; breeding ground for independent Maori thought; and a seething hotbed of Maori radicalism.

Te Hui Oranga o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa, was an extremely important hui for Maori because it dragged us kicking and screaming out of our own world and connected us to people facing similar issues in the Pacific.

Te Hui Oranga o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa attracted more than 120 people from all over the Pacific, who had gathered for a common purpose:

"to speak of land rights movements throughout the Pacific in their broadest context; and the struggle of indigenous people everywhere to regain power over their lives and lands, and resist global military and economic interests."

Te Hui Oranga o Te Moana Nui a Kiwawas the first of its kind in Aotearoa, bringing four international leaders to the forum, including:

* Charlie Ching, a Tahitian independence leader;
* Grace Smallwood and Mike Smith, Koori from North Queensland; and
* Mariflor Parpan of the Nuclear Free Phillipines Coalition;

and helping Maori to see their own plight as part of a global movement.

A Common History

Mr Speaker, I also want to use this anniversary of the 1987 legislation to acknowledge others who helped shape that history.

A history whereHerbs expressed the nation's anti-nuclear feelings through songs like French Letter, No Nukes, Light of the Pacific, and Nuclear Waste.

A history that poet Hone Tuwhare captured in his own special ode to nuclear madness 'No Ordinary Sun'.

A history that links us through the threat of nuclear destruction to:

* the people of the Marshalls who still suffer from American nuclear tests;
* the people of Bikini and Rongelap, evacuated and devastated by the surface testing of US nuclear weapons;
* Our cousins from Tahiti Nui who have been killed and mutilated by French nuclear testing on Mururoa and Fangataufa;
* New Zealand, Australian, and Pacific military, used as guinea pigs in the British nuclear programmes on Malden and Christmas Islands;
* The Koori people pushed out of the Maralinga Desert for nuclear testing;
* The people of Kwajalein forced to host the Ronald Reagan Missile test site;
* And the people of Guam and Hawai'i who continue to endure the stockpiling of nuclear weapons, battleships, bombers and military operations.

A history that links the Pacific in a common resistance against the effects of colonisation - physical, cultural, spiritual, economic, nuclear and military, and a history with a common struggle for self-determination and independence.

Acknowledgements

I want to acknowledge too, the importance of the anti-nuclear protests in helping define a distinctive identity here in Aotearoa, following on from the strident Vietnam protests, the Maori land March, the protests at Waitangi, and the many land occupations throughout the country as Maori staked their own place in this new world, and the protests against the Springbok Tour.

I acknowledge also the work of international organisations like Greenpeace, and I make special mention here of Fernando Pereira, who my wife and I had the privilege to meet just hours before he was killed when the Rainbow Warrior was blown up by French agents and sunk in the Auckland harbour.

And I acknowledge too, the efforts of ordinary Kiwis that raised our opposition to nuclear energy from 30% in 1978, to 90% in 1986.

I acknowledge Helen Clark for pushing the Bill to make Aotearoa nuclear free when a lot of her own party members weren't particularly keen on it.

I acknowledge Marilyn Waring, the National MP who voted her conscience and supported the Opposition's Nuclear Free New Zealand Bill, and brought down her own government in the process.

I acknowledge David Lange for whopping Jerry Falwell, on the public stage in Oxford, in a debate that 'nuclear weapons are morally indefensible' – winning the debate, and earning international admiration for our position.

And I acknowledge all New Zealanders for not allowing our governments to cave in, when the Yanks tried to force us to back down.

Conclusion

Our anti-nuclear status is now an integral part of our society, something we must never forget, and something we must always be prepared to step forward on.

Mr Speaker, we must never forget the courage of those who fought for our country to be nuclear free, and we must never forget those who continue to suffer ongoing problems from nuclear testing.

And in closing, let me quote from the reversioning ofHone Tuwhare's poem, 'No Ordinary Sun' as it was re-presented by Maranga Mai all over the nation, as a warning to us all that this fight is not over ...

"Tree - let your arms fall; don't raise them to the bright cloud
Soon, they will lack toughness
For this is no mere axe to blunt or fire to smother you
Your sap won't rise again to the pull of the moon
Your ears bend to the winds talk or stir to the trickle of rain
Your branches won't be wreathed with the delightful flight of birds
Or shield lovers from the bright sun
Tree - let your arms fall; don't raise them to the bright cloud
For this is no ordinary sun
No ordinary sun
And your end is written at last ..."

ENDS

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