Protest action against nuclear weapons was varied and passionate across the country. From the ports of Auckland, down the roads to Wellington, to up at Mururoa Atoll, the number of protestors increased until it had truly become a mass movement with over 300 peace groups meeting regularly by 1976.
Marches were a popular way of protest right the way through the movement. The CND held Hiroshima Day marches as a way of remembering and protesting the loss of life at Hiroshima. In 1962 on the Featherston to Wellington march, 610 mostly university students marched towards Parliament. Marches such as this increased during the Muldoon era as the National government allowed nuclear-powered vessels into NZ harbours. The Waiheke Peace Group held the Waiheke March for Disarmament in 1983. This had a turnout of 400 women and children. The group saw that this was only a micro-ism of what could be done. The Walk for Life on Earth from Waiheke to Wellington was then undertaken. They collected letters from the towns they visited, to deliver at Parliament. Also in 1983 was the Women’s March in Auckland on May 24, where over 20,000 women marched up Queen St. These women were from a range of backgrounds- elderly and young, mothers, scholars and so on. These marches served to show the government the dedication of the protestors when they marched the length of the North Island, and how important this issue was to so many.
Petitions were another method of showing the number of people who wanted to be nuclear free. In 1963 the CND carried out the ‘No Bombs South of the Line’ petition. They managed to collect 80,000 signatures. The Campaign Half Million petition that was carried out in 1976 did not reach half a million signatures of people who wanted nothing to do with nuclear weapons but it did collect a significantly large number.
The protest on the water against US ships entering NZ ports was by far the most dangerous form of protest undertaken. The Peace Squadron had the potential to be overwhelmed by the size of the Navy boats, but the number of boats protesting made up for their small size. Ships they protested include the USS Long Beach in 1976, and the USS Truxton in 1976, the USS Pintado in 1978, the USS Haddo in 1979, and the USS Buchanan in 1985. The police were also involved in the protest, but on the side of the Navy ships. Helicopters would try and blow the smaller boats over, with police out in patrol boats sometimes pulling people out of their boats and using grappling hooks. The protestors learned to use party gas to keep the helicopter at bay and flew kites to stop the helicopter from getting close. The USS Long Beach was able to be delayed for an hour and 18 minutes. In the years that this type of protest was active, support for a nuclear-free country grew.
The video to the right is a series of outtakes from an ad that didn't air. In it, Spike Mulligan, a comedian, tells people to sign Campaign Half Million. He also mentions the group that set up the petition- Campaign for Non-Nuclear Futures. He says he would sign it because he wants a safe future, and that nuclear power is unnecessary because of wind power.
The video above is a clip from a documentary called 'Nuclear Reaction'. The first 6:30 minutes have footage of the protester boats out on the water against the Navy ships. Stephen Sherie even recounts how he jumped on the top of the USS Haddo submarine. He describes the situation as "absolute bedlam".