The most significant consequence of the anti-nuclear protest in New Zealand is its social consequence in its lasting legacy and the symbol it has become for New Zealand independence, which has had social and political effects. Despite losing an ally and being the subject of a terrorist attack, New Zealand remained anti-nuclear. Standing up to two much larger and more powerful countries and managing to hold their ground gave many New Zealanders an enormous amount of pride, and this resulted in the growth of nationalism in New Zealand. This is the social effect on the mind-set of New Zealanders. Even today in the 21st century it is an important part of the national identity of the nation. A quote from the 2007 Hansard Debate on the 20th Anniversary of the Nuclear Free Legislation in New Zealand Parliament sums up the significance this has had for New Zealand on the world stage. Phil Goff, the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, said “First, it showed that New Zealand was prepared to lead the world in opposition to the existence and the build-up of nuclear arms. Secondly, it showed our readiness as a small but proudly independent nation to speak out for the values we believed in”.
Becoming an anti-nuclear state was a milestone in New Zealand development and independence, and New Zealand’s voice is still present in the nuclear debate worldwide. This is evident in New Zealand’s presence at the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. Continuing this legacy means being actively involved in trying to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons around the world. New Zealand is active as a member of the New Agenda Coalition at the United Nation. This Coalition is comprised of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, and New Zealand who are all working for nuclear disarmament.
This sign is outside the Wellington airport and was put there in 2004. It announces Wellington as being a nuclear free city. This was to commemorate Wellington declaring itself a nuclear free city in 1982. The 'Absolutely Wellington' tourism slogan is another example of New Zealand people being proud enough of being nuclear free that they want to announce it to international travelers outside the airport.
This 'Cloak of Peace' was commissioned by the Peace Foundation. Hon Phil Goff unveiled it on behalf of the NZ Government at a ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park In October 2004 It was unveiled by Disarmament and Arms Control Minister, Hon Phil Goff, on behalf of the New Zealand Government in a ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park on 21 October. This is an example of New Zealand being known internationally for its nuclear-free status.
The political legacy of NZ being nuclear-free is evident in the policies of New Zealand political parties. The political parties in New Zealand have all remained supportive of the anti-nuclear policy, aside from the National Party briefly in the mid-2000s. The current National Prime Minister John Key is in favour of keeping the legislation. The fact that the major NZ political parties have adopted the policy is indicative of public opinion still being supportive of remaining nuclear-free, and that the New Zealand public are proud of this legacy.
In 2005, the song ‘Anchor Me’ was re-recorded by a group of New Zealand musicians to commemorate the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior. The proceeds of the song went to Greenpeace. The song reached number 3 on the top song charts. The music video (seen below) contains footage of the Rainbow Warrior and protest footage of Greenpeace boats against environmental issues including nuclear testing that the Rainbow Warrior took part in. The song’s popularity raised awareness of the bombing and the protest in a younger generation who would not have been alive during the time of protest. Its popularity was another sign of the continued support by the New Zealand public of the legacy of the protest.