Independence and Foreign Policy: New Zealand in the World since 1935

By Malcolm McKinnon | Go to book overview

8. The 1970s: a new kind of independence?

We have seen that independence acquired new meaning at the end of the 1960s: power became an element in thinking about independence. But in the 1970s the older ways of thinking also remained significant. The anti-nuclear movement, although interwoven with a radical critique of ANZUS, derived its strongest impetus from environmental concerns. National, in government again after 1975, with Muldoon as Prime Minister, talked of independence, as Holyoake had at the end of the 1960s, but we can see powerful echoes of the traditional preoccupations and assumptions of conservative parties about New Zealand's place in the world.1 There were no defining moments in alliance relations comparable with those engendered by the Vietnam War and the British retreat from Asia.


The revival of the anti-nuclear movement

What had happened to the anti-nuclear movement since 1960? Ban-the-bomb activity had revived in 1961-62 when the moratorium on testing agreed to by the Soviet Union and the United States had collapsed. The two countries signed a partial test-ban treaty in 1963, but by then anti-nuclear sentiment had been given a strong 'local' dimension with France's announcement that it planned to move its testing programme from Algeria, which had become independent, to French Polynesia. There was an immediate hostile reaction in New Zealand. In September 1963 Parliament was presented with an 80,000- signature petition seeking a nuclear-free Southern Hemisphere. Students at their summer congress advocated that the government station ships in the test zone and CND supported similar action and also a trade boycott; this latter was supported by some trade unions too. A women's petition and an open letter was forwarded to de Gaulle by Holyoake, whilst some students established the Committee for Resolute Action Against the French Tests (CRAFT).2

____________________
1
Labour 'idealism' and National 'realism' in the 1970s are also discussed in John Henderson, NZIR, May-June 1977, p. 7; McCraw, 'Kirk to Muldoon', pp. 640-59.
2
Roderic Alley, The Awesome Glow in the Sky": New Zealand and Disarmament', in NZWA 1957-72, pp. 84-86; Salient, 21 Sept. 1964.

-187-

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