The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior: responses to an international act of terrorism

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle


The Rainbow Warrior affair, an act of sabotage against the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, the Rainbow Warrior, when berthed at Marsden wharf in Auckland harbour on 10th July 1985, dramatised in unprecedented ways issues of neo-imperialism, national security, eco-politics and postcolonialism in New Zealand. The bombing of the yacht by French secret service agents effectively prevented its participation in a Nuclear Free Pacific campaign in which it was to have headed the Pacific Fleet Flotilla to Moruroa atoll protesting French nuclear testing. Outrage was compounded by tragedy: the vessel’s Portuguese photographer, Fernando Pereira, went back on board to get his camera after the first detonation and was drowned in his cabin following the second one. The evidence of French Secret Service (Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure or DGSE) involvement which sensationally emerged in the following months, not only enhanced New Zealand’s status as a small nation and wrongful victim of French neo-colonial ambitions, it dramatically magnified Greenpeace’s role as coordinator of New Zealand and Pacific resistance to French bomb-testing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-92
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Post-Colonial Cultures and Societies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

ISSN No. 1948-1845 (Print); 1948-1853 (Electronic)


  • The Rainbow Warrior
  • Greenpeace
  • New Zealand and the Pacific
  • anti-nuclear
  • French bomb-testing


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