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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 14. 1964.

Craft against De Gaulle: — Auckland Students Plan Sitting In At French Bomb Test!

Craft against De Gaulle:

Auckland Students Plan Sitting In At French Bomb Test!

France plans to hold atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific in July 1966. Dissatisfied with the ineffectiveness of New Zealand Government protests, a group of Aucklanders, predominantly students, have formed a new organisation with the object of taking more positive action.

The Committee for Resolute Action Against French Tests (CRAFT) aims to sail a fully-equipped light vessel or vessels into the danger area when the tests are due to be held. Any attempt by the French Government to interfere with the boat, provided it was not in territorial waters, would be an act of piracy and would constitute a breach of international law as laid down in the 1958 Geneva Agreement, says CRAFT.

IF, on the other hand, the French chose to ignore the presence of the boat and to blast it out of the sea, this would prove an even more effective protest, it is claimed.

CRAFT has been formed to coordinate public action against the tests, according to the Auckland Branch President, science student R. J. Northey. Apart from the principal objective, he says, CRAFT intends to act along as many lines as possible, including:
  • Instituting an embargo on the shipment of food supplies from New Zealand to the test area
  • pressuring the Government to sponsor a United Nations resolution against the tests
  • pressing for a special conference of Southern Hemisphere Pacific nations
  • demanding that New Zealand Government vessels be sent to the area.

Protection Of Our Children

At a recent public meeting of CRAFT in Auckland, it was stated that opposition to the tests was based on the fact that they were being held in defiance of a world consensus of opinion as expressed in the nuclear test ban treaty. It was also pointed out that no adequate scientific evidence had been brought forward to suggest that the tests would have no deleterious effects on New Zealand citizens in Pacific dependencies. There would "almost certainly" be an increase in the numbers of stillborn and deformed infants and in deaths from leukaemia and cancer, it was claimed by Northey.

CRAFT intends to base its vessels on Pitcairn or the closer, uninhabited Oeno group. It has been in contact with Pitcairn Islanders, who are sympathetic to the project, said Northey. The base will be a centre of operations to which supplies can be brought, and also a radio base. Vessels will remain in the testing zone till the French take action against them or explode a nuclear device.

Funds And Boats Needed!

One boat has already been offered to the committee, though it will require renovations. It is hoped that boats will be lent for the project or, failing this. CRAFT will buy vessels with funds raised through a public appeal. The cost of a 30ft vessel would be approximately £2000. it was stated at the meeting. Funds at present stand at about £50.

CRAFT hopes for business help in equipping the vessels. Necessary equipment will Include gelger counters, radio, safety and navigation equipment, medical supplies, food, and photographic materials.


CRAFT is also calling for volunteers to man the boats. Each will have a crew of four, of which at least two will have had seagoing experience. Of the 50 volunteers so far, about half a dozen are experienced. "Anyone who goes will probably do as much for the advancement of the cause of humanity in a few months as most others would have the chance to do in a lifetime," said Northey at the meeting.

At an SGM of the Auckland University Students' Association held on August 5 a motion "that this Association endorse in principle the aim of CRAFT to send ships into the testing zone" was narrowly defeated, while another motion "that the Studass donate the sum of £1000 to CRAFT (Auckland Branch," was overwhelmingly lost. The meeting has been described as "raucous, uncontrollable, and in some cases irresponsible."

The Governments Attitude to the Project has been Expressed by Attorney - General Hanan: "The Government is Most Categorically not Sympathetic." He is Reported as Saying.

Russell And Northey In Support

Support for CRAFT has come from Dr. J. F. Northey. Professor of Public Law at AU and father of the Auckland President, who has described the idea as "representing a genuine reaction by the ordinary man in the street to a serious situation," and from Bertrand Russell, who has sent the following message:

"The action by CRAFT to enter the zone intended for French nuclear tests deserves the world-wide support of all who are concerned for world peace. Nuclear testing kills, and the development of nuclear weapons imperils all mankind. I am very pleased to learn of the efforts being made in New Zealand and hope that they will continue and expand so that many forms of demonstrations, in addition to the courageous action being planned, will develop until the French abandon their plans."