Founding committee member Ron Halliday and museum director Maree Saunders are preserving an important part of our national history

Memorial sails through time

by Andy Bryenton

July 10 marked the 34 years to the day since the bombing of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior in Auckland.

Dargaville has strong ties to the ship, which was instrumental in protests surrounding the anti-nuclear issue, as the museum is the guardian of its twin masts and other taonga.

The Northern Wairoa Maori, Maritime and Pioneer Museum purchased the masts in November 1985 along with the ship’s clock, ominously stuck forever at the time of the fatal bomb attack. A sizeable collection has built up during the years as the museum has acquired new artefacts through purchase or contribution.

Soon after the bombing, which was carried out by covert agents of the French Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure intelligence agency, Dargaville made a bid to take on the entire ship as a monument. However, it was felt that it was more appropriate to sink the Rainbow Warrior as an artificial reef.

The museum on Dargaville’s hilltop remain guardians of the largest collection of objects from the ship, and the masts, topping 35 metres in height, stand above the town, lit up thanks to a donation of illumination in 2002 and Noeline and Les Andrew.

A team of locals helped ‘step’ or emplace the masts in 1986, erecting not only a tribute to the Rainbow Warrior’s part in our anti-nuclear political stance but also a thoroughly recognisable feature of the Dargaville skyline.

Hence July 10 is a day when museum staff pay their respects and invite locals and visitors alike to explore the story of this ship and its role in our nation’s history.