Anti-nuclear protest in New Zealand had political consequences, such as the deterioration of the relationship between protector- the US, and ally- New Zealand. Muldoon had tried to preserve the alliance by allowing US warships into New Zealand waters. However the steadily growing number of anti-nuclear towns growing in New Zealand meant that the government was either going to have to go against overwhelming public opinion, or appease its ally. Attempting the latter proved costly for the National Party and Muldoon, as after National MP Marilyn Waring threatened in a debate to walk over the Labour side of Parliament, Muldoon called for a snap-election. The Labour Party under David Lange won this election in 1984. Lange promised to ban nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered warships from New Zealand. Despite making efforts with the United States to come to a compromise, Lange was unsuccessful. These efforts included visiting the United States, as well as talking with US Secretary of State George Schultz when he visited in 1984. The US continued its policing of ‘neither confirming nor denying’ the presence of nuclear weapons on its ships, or whether the ships were nuclear-powered. Its argument was that ANZUS was pointless if their ships were not allowed in NZ ports. This disagreement between the US and NZ came to a head in 1985 with ‘The Buchanan Affair’. The USS Buchanan was not nuclear-powered, yet it was denied entry to New Zealand waters by Lange. The reason given for this was that it was capable of firing nuclear weapons, and also that the US would not confirm whether it was carrying nuclear weapons. This was proof that Lange was serious about his policies and gave the NZ faith that he would carry through in his promises. As a result of this slight, America disallowed intelligence sharing between NZ and the US. By this time ANZUS was effectively cancelled. America was no longer a part of New Zealand security plans.
An anti--nuclear protest march in Wellington 1983. The protestors wore masks and carried a Statue of Liberty prop as well as a giant hand. This is proof that in the minds of the protestors, the US was 'the bad guy'- was the major power that was pushing the world towards a nuclear war. It is a sign that the public were in favour of abandoning ANZUS if the US did not want to accept New Zealand's nuclear free policy. Photo published in the Evening Post.
In a 1980 interview, David Lange spoke on the subject of ANZUS and the government's stance on nuclear power. On his anti-nuclear policy, he said "It is in the interest of New Zealand security, and it is something which our
friends will themselves accommodate to." Lange remained optimistic that the US would agree to continue ANZUS despite New Zealand being nuclear free and banning nuclear powered US ships in to internal waters. "I don't think that'll be the end of ANZUS either.” The cartoon above from Nevile Sidney Lodge, published in the Evening Post in 1986, refers to these statements when NZ was eventually excluded from the ANZUS alliance.
Muldoon is pictured on the left, 'guaranteeing' the USS Texas is nuclear weapons free. This refers to Muldoon allowing nuclear powered ships to enter NZ, in order to maintain ANZUS. Lange, on the right, is questioning whether or not the ship has nuclear weapons/power. This cartoon is a summary of the main party leaders' nuclear policies in 1983. Cartoon by Bill Wrathall.
The 21st century has seen renewed positive relations between the United States and New Zealand. This is seen in the co-operation of NZ military with US military in the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. New Zealand is also a Major non-NATO ally (MNNA), meaning it is a close ally. This entails a number of financial and military advantages including reciprocal training. In 2002, Prime Minister Helen Clark met with President Bush. President Bush’s senior officials were reported in the New Zealand Herald said the relationship could never include close military ties until New Zealand removed it's ban on nuclear powered ships in internal waters. In 2010, New Zealand and the US signed the Wellington Declaration. The intention of this agreement is to signal the growing closeness and co-operation on Pacific region issues, as well as emphasising the need for discussion on issues like nuclear weapons and their use, climate change, and terrorism. In 2012, Prime Minister John Key attended the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by President Obama, who organised the summit as a way of preventing nuclear war and terrorism. Obama has said that he wants to get rid of nuclear weapons. This is an idealistic goal, but the intentions are promising for NZ and US relations in the future.