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Northland commemorates Rainbow Warrior

Rainbow Warrior 1985 photograph © Gil Hanly
Pat Hanly Fire and Rainbow 1985 enamel and acrylic on board Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki
Northland is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Rainbow Warrior bombing with


Northland is set to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Rainbow Warrior bombing with two exhibitions at Whangarei Art Museum.

Rainbow Warriors and Remainders –  photographs by Gil Hanly and memorabilia loaned by Greenpeace NZ and private collections. 

Northland is set to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Rainbow Warrior bombing with two exhibitions at Whangarei Art Museum.

Rainbow Warriors and Remainders –  photographs by Gil Hanly and memorabilia loaned by Greenpeace NZ and private collections. 

Curated by Scott Pothan 10 July – 5 September 2010
Whangarei Art Museum

Rainbow Warriors and Remainders will include photographs taken by Gil Hanly of the arrival of the Rainbow Warrior into Auckland Harbour and the subsequent welcoming party on board with dignitaries; the bombing and its aftermath; and the images of the trials and public outrage at the time. Many of these images have not been seen publically since 1985. A further suite of images will show the construction and dedication ceremony of the Rainbow Warrior Sculpture at Matauri Bay and many items salvaged from the Rainbow Warrior before she was laid to rest in the Pacific Ocean off Northland. 

‘There will come a time when the earth is sick and the animals and plants begin to die. Then the Indians will regain their spirit and gather people of all nations, colours and beliefs to join together in the fight to save the earth: The Rainbow Warriors’

 North American Indian prophesy and founding legend of the successive Rainbow Warrior vessels.

At 11.49pm 10 July 1985 an electric blue flash was seen in the water beside the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior docked in Auckland Harbour. A massive explosion rocked the ship, the first of two blasts which were to sear holes below the waterline and into the collective memory of a nation. This act of state sanctioned terrorism and the murder of Fernando Pereira by a country on whose soil New Zealand blood had been spilt in two World Wars was a profound turning point in our sense of identity. The horror of the act, the protracted planning and the aftermath of trials and media frenzy served to unite the country and made the NZ Peace Movement and Anti-Nuclear values an intrinsic part of our culture – and a part of who we are as a nation. Two years later in 1987 the Government of David Lange passed legislation making New Zealand Nuclear Free which has never been challenged by any subsequent government.

Northland’s connections to this story of French terrorism and paranoia are several and layered, making it appropriate that the Whangarei Art Museum commemorate the event exactly to the date a quarter of a century on, with the only museum or public display event scheduled for the day. French Secret Service agents spent the preceding months in Northland planning the attack and dining on pizzas at  Reva’s Restaurant in Whangarei. Austrian/Northland artist and environmentalist Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed and painted a flag for the vessel and was a close supporter of Greenpeace. The Late Hon Mat Rata was an honoured guest on board the Rainbow Warrior days before the bombing. And of course Northland was to become the final resting place as an artificial reef and dive attraction off the coast of Matauri Bay where another Northland artist/environmentalist Chris Booth created the Rainbow Warrior Memorial sculpture. Greenpeace Executive Director and former Rainbow Warrior crew member Bunny McDiarmid says of this exhibition at Whangarei Art Museum;

‘Twenty five years ago Greenpeace altered the course of history by facing the world’s biggest powers head on in a drive to end the nuclear threat in the Pacific…Greenpeace continues campaigning with our ships to protect the world’s environment and the spirit of the original Warrior lives on in the replacement vessel also named the Rainbow Warrior.

Thanks to the people of Northland, who offered a final resting place for the Rainbow Warrior after she was bombed in 1985, her spirit lives on in Matauri Bay. ’ May 2010.

Blast !   Pat Hanly-the painter and his protests
Toured by Lopdell House Gallery 10 July – 5 September 2010

The story of New Zealand’s struggle to be nuclear free cannot be told without reference to Pat Hanly and his iconic works around the fear of and protest against nuclear weapons.

Pat Hanly’s paintings are about passion and protest, light, love and life and are joined in this exhibition by photographs from Gil Hanly, DVDS from Claudia Pond Eyley and Lisa Prager. Blast! is also accompanied by a publication by Trish Gibben specially designed for children and the Art Museum will be running schools education programs in association with Whangarei Museum. 

A survey exhibition by Pat Hanly Classic Hanly curated by Scott Pothan was the inaugural exhibition at the official opening of the Whangarei Art Museum 14 years ago in June 1996. The Whangarei Art museum is privileged to welcome back the expressive works of such a well loved artist and activist.

Written by

Whangārei Art Museum

17 May 2010

The Whangārei Art Museum Te Manawa Toi is the public art gallery of the Whangārei District, and custodians of its art collection and public art works in the city.