Valerie Morse: Why Is Nuclear-Free New Zealand Hosting A Weapons Conference and Inviting Warships?

Interviewed by

Lisa Er

Valerie Morse: Why Is Nuclear-Free New Zealand Hosting A Weapons Conference and Inviting Warships?

Peace activist Valerie Morse talks with Lisa Er on the upcoming weapons conference, warship visits and why this is bad for New Zealand and the rest of the world.

This November, coinciding with the New Zealand Navy’s 75th birthday celebrations, is the annual NZ Defence Industry Conference and Arms Expo, that includes approximately 500 international weapons companies.

The Navy "celebration" is a stage-managed marketing event to secure public support for future ties with the US, sanctioning wars, with ever-increasing budgets, and the recruitment of young men and women who are asked to fight and die. 

This is proposed for 16th and 17th November 2016 in Auckland, sponsored by the world’s largest weapons manufacturer and maker of nuclear weapons, Lockheed Martin. Also sponsoring are Thales, Babcock, ThyssenKrupp, and Cubic Defence (all in the top 100 list of international arms companies), along with the NZ Defence Industry Association, itself an industry trade promotion group consisting of another approximately 60 members involved in weapons and military-related production.

Lockheed Martin currently has a $446 million contract with the NZ Navy to upgrade New Zealand's two frigates, Te Mana and Te Kaha; boats the Government has already indicated it plans to replace as part of its $20 billion boost to the NZ Defence Force, announced as part of the Defence White Paper released earlier this year. This enormous injection of cash into the military is happening despite the NZDF's own evidence that "the country does not face a direct military threat in the foreseeable future".

New Zealand at war.

The New Zealand military has been continuously at war in Afghanistan alongside the US for 15 years; it is conducting regular training with the US Marine Corp, and it participates in the largest maritime war games in the world, the US-led Rimpac.

The NZ Defence forces original deployment to Iraq was aimed at helping a broader coalition, headed by the United States, to defeat Islamic State and reduce the threat politicians say it poses to New Zealand. Now the deployment has been extended.

New Zealand has clearly come under pressure from the US to stay on in Iraq. It is not just about the extra resources, it's about having more countries in Iraq as part of the coalition, giving greater legitimacy to the US-led "Operation Inherent Resolve."

Valerie says, “We’ve had enough of the politics of fear and austerity. We aren’t going to stand by while those who profit from misery, murder and repression meet to make new deals and congratulate themselves on their successes. We need YOUR help to blockade the weapons conference and to create a peace flotilla on the water to resist the warships.”

Valerie Morse

Valerie Morse is a writer, librarian, peace activist and anarchist. She is the author of two books: “Against Freedom: the war on terrorism in everyday New Zealand life”, and “The Day the Raids Came: Stories of survival and resistance to the State Terror Raids”.

She has worked on a range of grassroots community issues including war, arms dealers, climate justice, prison abolition and public transport. She loves to garden, and pet fuzzy animals.

Valerie is passionate in her opposition to war. She writes - “There are two broader interconnected issues that arise in opposition to the Weapons Conference. First, if there is a military, it needs weapons. Therefore, the issue of the Weapons Conference goes to the heart of the military project in New Zealand.

Does New Zealand need a standing army? The peace movement with a long trajectory back to the First World War would say no. Contemporary academics and commentators reject the very idea of the “Defence Force,” instead decrying New Zealand’s history of offensive engagement in foreign wars of empire and conquest.”

Both journalist Nicky Hager, and Russell Norman of Greenpeace, agree that New Zealand’s Nuclear-Free Act will not be threatened by the US Navy bringing a warship to be part of the NZ Navy's 75th birthday in November.
 Oh really? 
Think again!
 The US position on neither confirming nor denying whether its warships are nuclear powered or nuclear armed remains the same. What has changed is the position of the New Zealand Government. It is now perfectly happy to use what is publically available and known as to the ships background, and so it is not going to ask anything further!

This is the first time in 32 years the US has been invited to send a warship to New Zealand. This event is the culmination of many years of work by those who wish to bring the New Zealand military back into the fold of US empire.

The New Zealand government has signed both the Washington and Wellington Declarations in recent years, re-committing the country to joint military cooperation, and conveniently side-stepping the nuclear-free issue altogether.

We as a country need to decide who we are. 
Wellington was declared a nuclear free zone on April 14 1982 and 40 local authorities in total had declared themselves nuclear-free by the end of 1984.

It is an affront to this country’s nuclear-free status that a naval exercise with United States ships will be taking place in the waters of the Aotearoa New Zealand this November. 

Are we a country that sits under the US military and nuclear umbrella, supporting foreign wars that have nothing to do with us; or are we going to stand up for our own sovereignty declaring that war is never a solution, and that we will insist on staying nuclear free.

Get involved!

Here is a link to Auckland Peace Action Group where you can get involved!

Link to Valerie’s article “New Zealand’s Homegrown Military-Industrial Complex”.

Link to Valerie’s book “Against Freedom - The War on Terrorism in Everyday New Zealand Life”.

This interview is sponsored by The Awareness Party

Leave a Comment

Lisa Er

Lisa Er

Born in the UK Lisa emigrated with her parents to New Zealand at the age of 16. Already politically active Lisa has continued to have a passionate interest in peace, politics, and the philosophy behind what we do.

A primary school teacher for 14 years, Lisa then turned her hand to business and created the well known Lisa's Hummus, which she sold a few years ago. Now Lisa is immersed in creating a better political system via