By Laurie Ross.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) established 1958 internationally and in NZ was a major organisation working to abolish nuclear weapons in the world. The NZ focus in the 1970s was on stopping French nuclear testing in the Pacific in which both Greenpeace and the NZ government made effective protests. In addition, there were anti-nuclear demonstrations against the US nuclear warship visits to New Zealand due to involvement in the ANZUS alliance.
George Armstrong organised the dramatic Peace Squadron protests on the water from 1976 -1984. He also facilitated the Home Base Pacific Pilgrimage to encourage individuals to declare their homes nuclear free zones. Devonport was the first borough council to declared itself a Nuclear Free Zone in March 1981.
The strategy and coordination of a national political campaign focussed specifically on achieving a NZ Nuclear Weapon Free Zone policy was the vision of Larry Ross. His plan was adopted at the Annual NZ Peace Conference Oct. 1981.
He developed the concept based on the 1978 UN Resolutions which advocated that countries and regions declared by governments as Nuclear Free Zones would contribute to nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and global security.
New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone Committee was established Dec.1981 (became the NZ Nuclear Free Peacemaking Association 1986 – 2007) to carry out the campaign plan as follows:
a) Public education materials on the dangers of nuclear weapons were mass produced and widely desseminated.
b) Petitions to parliament to adopt the Nuclear Free Zone policy which included withdrawal from ANZUS, instituting a Peacemaking defence and foreign policy and delivery of humanitarian aid
c) Peace Groups lobbying local councils to declare Nuclear Free Zones
d) Promotion, marketing and popularising the idea in mainstream society with badges, stickers, stalls, organisation of lecture tours, media publicity, events and newsletters.
This led to a proliferation of independent peacegroups, leadership, organisation, cooperation and demonstration for a NZ Nuclear Free Zone supported by people from all political parties and walks of life.
By the 1984 snap election there were 86 local Councils who had declared Nuclear Free Zones
(61% pop) and the government was voted in on this platform.
In 1987 the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act was passed by parliament and securely rooted in 105 locally declared nuclear free zones (72%pop.) 1990 all political parties adopt the NZNFZ policy.