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Challenging AUKUS and Advocating for a Nuclear-Free Pacific

Tuesday 4 July 2023, 5:44AM

By Te Kuaka

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A leading New Zealand foreign policy campaign group is teaming up with high-profile writers and academics – including journalist Nicky Hager – to oppose AUKUS, the Australia-UK-US military pact, and recentre visions of a nuclear-free and independent Pacific. The group, Te Kuaka (formerly New Zealand Alternative), is hosting seven public events across New Zealand, coinciding with the 38th anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior on 10 July. The tour is called 'Matika Hawaiki'.

The events in Wellington, Auckland, and Dunedin will involve local speakers, including Indigenous rights advocate Tina Ngata, activist Tāme Iti, campaigners Hilda Halkyard-Harawira and Hone Harawira, and Green Party MP Teanau Tuiono.

The tour follows significant opposition to suggestions by the Government that it is considering joining 'Pillar II' of the AUKUS security deal, which initially involved a plan for Australia to acquire eight nuclear-powered submarines.

"AUKUS is an alarming military provocation, based on western priorities and pushed into a sensitive region," says Marco de Jong, a Samoan-New Zealand historian and spokesperson for Te Kuaka and the Matika Hawaiki campaign.

"This is an opportunity for New Zealand to remember that being nuclear-free was not just about nuclear weapons but was also about a Pacific-led foreign policy," states writer and intellectual Arama Rata, another spokesperson for Te Kuaka and Matika Hawaiki.

"We are losing sight of what are meant to be the cornerstones of foreign policy – being independent, nuclear-free, and Pacific-led – and these public events are a chance to lift public debate on foreign policy, which is so often conducted in the shadows," adds Rata.

Events will be held between 6-13 July in a range of venues, including the University of Otago and Sāmoa House Library. A special commemoration at the Auckland Museum will be held on 10 July for the 38th anniversary of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, and a teachers' event for teaching Pacific and New Zealand history is hosted on 10-11 July.