The French Bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland, New Zealand

The blowing up and sinking of the Rainbow Warrior was an embarrassment for the French Government along with a curse to the history of good connections involving the nations of New Zealand (NZ) and France. In 1985 NZ then was among the international leaders of the anti-nuclear movement at a time when the French was still testing nuclear bombs in the pacific, NZ's region. This was regarded at that time to be a source of embarrassment for the French . Just before midnight on the evening of 10 July 1985, two blasts blew holes in the hull of Greenpeace’s ship, the Rainbow Warrior, that had been tied up at Marsden Wharf in Auckland in NZ. That was right before the boat was initially on her way to a demonstration in opposition to a planned French nuclear test in Moruroa in the Pacific ocean. A Portuguese national and crew member, Fernando Pereira, was killed by the explosions and the vessel sunk in the harbour. All other crew members were safely rescued. The Rainbow Warrior was associated with many protest activities over French nuclear testing in the Pacific ocean from the base in Auckland.

On 24 of July two French secret service agents, Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur, were arrested in NZ and had been charged with homicide. They eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to ten yrs jail time, significantly to the considerable embarrassment of the French government. There was an unidentified number of other agents posing as travelers associated who ended up able to escape the country prior to being identified. That this bombing was committed on NZ territory by another country which was supposed to be friendly produced a feeling of considerable repugnance and a critical decline in relations between NZ and the French. The French to begin with dismissed any involvement with the bombings, but the reality was later on exposed by the Le Monde newspaper, declaring that the attack was authorized by the French President. France's Prime Minister eventually accepted France’s involvement. A number of political figures, such as then NZ Prime Minister David Lange, referred to as bombing as an act of terrorism or even government sanctioned attacks. This resulted in trade difficulties for NZ goods getting exported to the European Union and disturbance in that from French authorities. Twelve months following the attack the UN Secretary Javier Perez de Cuellar announced a binding decision in which that New Zealand will receive an apology and settlement of $13 million out of France. The French government had also been ordered never to obstruct NZ's commercial discussions. The agents from France Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur were to fulfill their criminal sentences completely on Hao Atoll in the French Polynesia. Nevertheless, each of them were discharged early on with Alain Marfart getting sent back to France on account of an alleged condition in 1987 and Dominique Prieur was sent back in May 1988 as she ended up being pregnant. Both ended up honoured and also promoted upon their return home to France. This caused repugnance in New Zealand. The French govt also paid $8 million to Greenpeace for damages that they used to pay for one more ship. It additionally paid compensation for the Pereira relatives.