Vietnam War protesters greet US Vice-President

15 January 1970

Vietnam War protest poster (Alexander Turnbull Library, MS-Papers-2511-5/1/25-9)

United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s three-day visit to New Zealand sparked some of the most violent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations seen in this country. Many protesters and some media accused the police of excessive force against demonstrators.

New Zealand was Agnew’s his last stop on a 25-day, 60,000-km, 11-nation goodwill tour of Pacific and Asian countries. His wife, Judy, Apollo 10 astronaut Eugene Cernan, 10 journalists, aides and Secret Service agents accompanied him.

The presence of a high-ranking American politician attracted the attention of the anti-war movement, who saw the New Zealand government as bowing to the US over participation in the war.

Over 500 protesters greeted the Vice-President in Auckland. The following evening protests continued outside a state dinner for Agnew. Up to 700 protesters assembled outside his hotel and shouted anti-war slogans at guests as they arrived. There were 200 police on hand and a series of scuffles broke out. Around 11.45 p.m. the police moved against the demonstrators, making a further 11 arrests.

The protests attracted widespread media attention here and in the United States.