The blowing up and sinking of the Rainbow Warrior was a shame with the French Government along with a blight on the past of great connections between the nations of New Zealand (NZ) and France. In 1985 New Zealand then was one of the global leaders in the anti-nuclear actions at the same time when France continued to be evaluating nuclear weaponry in the pacific, New Zealand’s backyard. This was regarded at the time to be a cause of embarrassment for the French Government. Just before midnight on the evening of 10 July 1985, two explosions blew holes through the hull of Greenpeace’s ship, the Rainbow Warrior, that was moored at Marsden Wharf in Auckland in NZ. That was right before the ship was initially on her way to a demonstration in opposition to a planned French atomic test in Moruroa in the Pacific. A Portugal national and team member, Fernando Pereira, was killed by the bombs and the ship sunk in the Auckland harbour. All other crew on board were safely rescued. The Rainbow Warrior was associated with many protest activities about French nuclear testing in the Pacific from the base in Auckland.
On 24th of July 2 French secret service officers, Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart, ended up caught in New Zealand and were charged with murder. They consequently pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, much to the considerable discomfort from the France government. There was an unknown number of other French agents pretending to be tourists associated who ended up able to escape NZ before being captured. That this bombing was committed in Auckland on New Zealand territory by another nation which was meant to be friendly created a feeling of substantial repugnance along with a serious deterioration in relationships in between New Zealand and France. The French at first denied having any involvement in the bombings, but the truth was later exposed by the Le Monde newspaper, declaring that this bombing was approved by the French President. France’s Prime Minister eventually confessed France’s involvement. Several politicians, including then NZ Prime Minister David Lange, called the bombing being an action of terrorism or even government sanctioned attacks. This generated trade troubles for NZ goods getting sold to the EU with disturbance in that by French representatives. A year following the attack the United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar declared a binding determination by which that NZ would get an apology as well as payment of $13 million out of the French govt. France was also directed not to obstruct New Zealand’s commercial negotiations. The agents from France Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur could serve their manslaughter sentences in full on Hao Atoll in French Polynesia islands. Nonetheless, both of them were released early on with Alain Marfart being returned to France due to an alleged sickness in 1987 and Dominique Prieur was returned in May 1988 as she ended up being pregnant. They ended up honoured and promoted upon their return back to France. This brought on outrage in Auckland and in the whole of NZ, not to mention the rest of the world. France in addition paid $8 million to Greenpeace for damage that they then used to buy a replacement for the Rainbow Warrior. France in addition paid a settlement to the Pereira family.