Nuclear Weapon-free Anniversary

10 April 2012

There is a plaque in Wellington's Botanic Garden that says 'Like Wellington's wild south coast, the path to peace is often rocky and difficult'.

The Hiroshima Day march on Lambton Quay, 6 August 1987 - photo: Ross Giblin, Dominion Post

The Hiroshima Day march on Lambton Quay, 6 August 1987 - photo: Ross Giblin, Dominion Post

A momentous occasion on that rocky and difficult road will be celebrated this Saturday 14 April, when the city marks the 30th anniversary of Wellington City Council's Nuclear Weapon Free declaration, initiated by Councillor Helene Ritchie 30 years ago and passed by the Council in 1982.

We'll be staging a family-friendly concert in Civic Square to commemorate and celebrate this important declaration in the Capital. There will be free performances from well-known Wellington musicians such as Warren Maxwell, fantastic children's activities and community stalls.

"The day aims to be fun for families and informative to a new generation of Wellingtonians," says Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

"We will reflect on how people had to struggle for what we take for granted now - a nuclear weapon-free New Zealand. The movement for a nuclear weapon free world is highly relevant today."

Councillor Helene Ritchie was instrumental in leading the movement to declare Wellington a nuclear weapon-free city.

"In 1982 when the declaration was passed, there were ships coming into Wellington Harbour with nuclear capability whose country of origin would neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weaponry on them," says Cr Ritchie.

"The declaration in the Capital in 1982 had significant repercussions, both for national and international politics.

"Within one year, through the effort of local councils, half of New Zealand was living in nuclear free zones; by 1987 when the national legislation was passed, 72 percent of New Zealanders already lived in these declared zones.

"There was a groundswell of support among Wellingtonians to make a stand, but it wasn't without conflict and controversy."

The event in Civic Square will be fun and upbeat, highlighted by the free concert and a few speeches to kick things off. There will also be food and drink vendors, community information stalls and a special activity area for the kids where they can make their own peace badge, flags and more.