Maire Leadbeater, peace activist and historian, spoke about her recently published book Peace, Power and Politics: How New Zealand became nuclear free (OUP 2013).
Although the talk was one of just two politically oriented events of the festival, it was well attended and inspired a thoughtful series of questions and comments.
Maire Leadbeater is an experienced activist who is able to offer considerable insight into the history of the peace movement during the eventful years between 1975 and 2000. The most dramatic and significant period of this struggle were the years 1983 – 1985, which involved massive protests. The culmination of the struggle was the introduction of New Zealand’s nuclear free legislation in 1987. David Lange is often credited with the honour of this principled piece of legislation, Leadbeater argues that the credit really belongs to the thousands of grassroots activists and ordinary people who marched in the streets, blocked warships with tiny protest boats and declared ‘nuclear free zones’ throughout the country. She also related the peace activism of the 1980s to contemporary issues such as surveillance and joint military exercises with the US . Even though the nuclear free struggle resulted in success, we should not become complacent.
We will run a review and more features on this important book in the coming months.