Rainbow Warrior to come south

02:16, Nov 19 2012
rainbow warrior
The new Rainbow Warrior that will visit the south next year.

The bombing of the original vessel is interwoven into Kiwi history, and Southlanders will soon get to experience the all-new Rainbow Warrior first-hand.

Greenpeace communications officer Dean Baigent-Mercer said the state-of-the-art vessel would visit Bluff and Stewart Island at the end of January next year, as part of its nationwide public tour, which also takes in Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington.

''We're going to have free tours of the ship, open days on board. Classes can come, members of the public can come, everybody's welcome aboard to be shown through the ship. It'll be amazing,'' he said.

The Rainbow Warrior was as symbolic now as it had been in the past, he said.

''It just shows what we can do when we set ourselves a goal of innovation and genuinely being clean and green. It's a symbol of what this country should be doing, rather than moving towards deep-sea drilling and that kind of thing. It's a living example of what we all need to be doing.''

The Rainbow Warrior will also visit Te Whanau a Apanui at Whangaparaoa Bay and help kick off a national ''Oil free seas'' hui and festival at Te Kaha in mid-January.

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Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid said the Rainbow Warrior had been the ''heart and soul'' of the organisation's global campaigning for more than 30 years.

''She's been raided, rammed, shot at and bombed but the spirit of the Rainbow Warrior is as strong as
ever. Many Kiwis donated to the building of the new Rainbow Warrior so it's great to be able to show people what they made possible.''

The vessel is the third to hold the name Rainbow Warrior, and the tour will be the first time it visits New Zealand.

After French Government agents bombed the first ship in Auckland harbour in 1985, the original ship was laid to rest off the Northland coast. Its replacement vessel was used for 21 years before going to a Bangladesh charity called Friendship last year, which now uses the vessel as a hospital ship.

The Southland Times