Protest as USS Texas visits Auckland

2 August 1983

Protest march against the visit of USS Texas
Protest march against the visit of USS Texas (Alexander Turnbull Library, EP/1983/3124/21A-F)

The visit of the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser Texas sparked anti-nuclear rallies on land and sea.

Port visits by United States warships had been controversial for some years. Two nuclear-powered cruisers, USS Truxtun and Long Beach, had attracted protest when they visited New Zealand in 1976. On each occasion, Civil Defence set up a public safety headquarters for the duration of the visit. Similar action was taken for the visits of the submarines USS Pintado in 1978 and Haddo in 1979. 

At issue was whether these vessels were nuclear-armed as well as nuclear-powered. American policy was to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ the presence of nuclear warheads and other weapons, and most US allies chose not to ask – an arrangement that was questioned by an increasing number of New Zealanders.

Nuclear ship visits became an election issue in 1984 and David Lange’s Labour government later banned them. This policy, which led to New Zealand's effective exclusion from the ANZUS alliance, was confirmed in law by the passage of anti-nuclear legislation in 1987 (see 8 June).

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Laurie Ross

Posted: 08 Jan 2022

I was coordinator of the West Auckland Peace Group 1982-86 and organised the giant Human Peace symbol in front of the museum at Auckland Domain involving over 2000 participants. I also organised for the NZ Herald aerial photo (6th August 1983 Hiroshima Day).
Our Auckland Peace Forum organised a Friday night anti-nuclear March down Queen St. with approximately 10,000 people,to protest against the USS Texas nuclear powered and armed ship in our Waitemata Harbour as well as the Peace Squadron on the water. This event was a major milestone in a 3 year action-packed campaign from 1982 that achieved the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone policy at the 1984 snap election.

The NZ Nuclear Free Zone Committee and campaign was established by my father Larry Ross January 1982 to provide a clearly achievable political goal in Defence and Foreign policy. This was the national petition circulated by neighbourhood peacegroups around the country.
In addition to protests and public education, the strategy also required lobbying Local Councils to declare Nuclear Free Zones to provide a stable foundation for central government to stand on.
(please contact me for More info. available on this important part of NZ Peace History)