New Zealand’s nuclear-free law was the result of a broad-based movement of ordinary New Zealanders, who worked tirelessly over decades to convince other New Zealanders, and their government, to oppose the most destructive, inhumane weapons ever invented. This citizens’ movement included faith-based organisations, sports groups, students, Māori/tangata whenua, women’s groups, business networks, doctors’ and lawyers’ associations and many others besides. By 1986, there were 350 active, local-area peace groups working on nuclear issues. In the process of becoming nuclear free, the nuclear free movement helped to redefine what it means to be a New Zealander. A new national identity was emerging—declaring New Zealand a nuclear free zone was also a declaration of national independence. New Zealand’s identity as an independent, principled nation still resonates today in venues such as the United Nations Security Council, on which New Zealand served in 2015-16.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of some high-profile campaigns, and events, and groups that helped create a nuclear-free New Zealand, and support New Zealand’s international promotion of nuclear disarmament. None of these campaigns was solely responsible for achieving the nuclear free law, but they all contributed…and there were many other campaigns that we haven’t had time to write about yet. (Supportive politicians were also essential in the process!) Please feel free to get in touch if you want to suggest other issues or campaigns we should be covering!