Posted by: scribe9 | July 10, 2010

July 10, 1985

Remember the significance of that day? Neither did I, but it resonates around here, because it’s the day that French agents sank the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbor.

Whangarei’s about 100 miles north of Auckland, but there are several local connections:

  • French secret service agents ate at a local pizzeria while planning their dastardly deed. The restaurant, run by actor Gene Barry’s sister and her husband, American emigrés from Malibu, has since moved twice and is more upscale than it was when they signed the guestbook (a key in conviction, apparently);
  • Friedensreich Hundertwasser, of Kawakawa toilets fame (see designed and painted a flag for the ship; and
  • The ship now sits on the ocean floor, northeast of Kawakawa, and is a dive site. They do that sort of thing a lot here; just last week they pulled up an anchor from a Royal New Zealand Navy ship ten years after it had been sunk for a diving reef. Turns out it’s traditional to pull the anchor up after ten years, which seems like a lot of bother.

The Rainbow Warrior sabotage (codenamed Operation Satanique) was a coming-of-age event for New Zealand, which felt betrayed when the US didn’t condemn the bombing as an act of war. So much for relying on Uncle Sam! The bombing also helped hasten passage of the nuclear-free-zone legislation that led the US to suspend its ANZUS treaty obligations toward New Zealand. There’s been a bit of a thaw lately–last month, for the first time in a quarter century, a RNZ navy ship docked in Seattle (although at a civilian dock, not at a US Navy facility), and it will visit other ports on the west coast on a diplomatic mission. That doesn’t mean that US naval vessels will visit New Zealand any time soon; the US refuses to confirm or deny which ships carry nuclear materials, and so none are allowed.


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