A PROGRESS report on the new Eyes of Fire – it's very different from previous editions, with an even greater emphasis on the Rongelap and Polynesian casualties of American and French nuclear testing in the Pacific.
New Zealand media has too much preoccupation with the 1985 bombing of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, and has largely ignored the greater Pacific tragedy.
Outrageous as this attack by French secret service agents was, it pales into insignificance alongside the atrocities inflicted on Kanak independence activists at the same time, such as the Hienghène massacre, the assassination of Éloi Machoro and the bloody ending to the 1988 Ouvea cave siege as exposed in the 2011 docu-drama Rebellion.
The publishers describe the new Eyes of Fire as being as being the "definitive work on Western treachery in the Pacific".
The Eyes of Fire microsite reported on in the last Café Pacific blog posting is progressing impressively, thanks to the enthusiastic contributions of the student journalists and the Little Island Press team headed by Tony Murrow.
Rainbow Warrior second mate Bene Hoffman’s Mejato Diary has also aroused interest.
Here is a Pacific Media Watch intro to the latest video in the project series:
Activist movements in New Zealand through the 1980s helped spark the change needed for the country's nuclear-free stance in the Pacific.
With protests, such as those that happened with the Rainbow Warrior, bombed by French secret agents on 10 July 1985, New Zealand was able to stand up for smaller Pacific nations.
Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie says the country was standing up to the bigger countries.
“What pushed NZ in the direction it did with the nuclear free approach ... was the masses of activism, of just ordinary people, people getting out on their boats on Auckland harbour for example,” he says in a new video report released today by the Pacific Media Centre.
“It was people rising up and saying, look, we don’t want this, we want to be independent, we want to have our voice.”
Selwyn Manning, editor of eveningreport.nz and who made a documentary about New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy, Morality of Argument, says the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior brought the nation together.
“It galvanised the resolve of the whole country to fight back against this and certainly politically for that idea to be entrenched in our legislation.”
But in today’s political environment, independent filmmaker Philip Shingler, producer of the 1988 documentary Niuklia Fri Pasifik, says it’s difficult to keep the media interested in these issues.
“It’s very interesting that television commissioning editors ... have said to me quite often, ‘well we’ve done the Pacific this year’, and I say, ‘well this is a third of the planet”.
Auckland University of Technology journalism and television students have been researching and reporting on the Rainbow Warrior as a prelude to the 30th anniversary of the bombing.
A microsite has been established by Little Island Press as testimony to the humanitarian voyage to Rongelap in the Marshall Islands in May 1985.