Rainbow Warrior makes stop in Bluff

Impromptu tours for curious people

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013
Rainbow Warrior
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

SCOUTING THE SCHOONER: Bluff Sea Scouts visit the Rainbow Warrior, which called into Bluff yesterday.

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Lines of curious people were waiting on the Bluff wharf to board the Greenpeace schooner Rainbow Warrior when it arrived yesterday afternoon.

The 57.92-metre boat with a 55m mast arrived in the early evening, fresh from filming a wildlife documentary in the subantarctic islands, hosted by rower Rob Hamill.

Giving an impromptu tour of the boat, Greenpeace chief executive Bunny McDiarmid pointed out to those on board how the Rainbow Warrior was equipped with a helideck, a sailing rig and a waste system, and was fuel efficient.

Ms McDiarmid was a deckhand when the first Rainbow Warrior was sunk in 1985 by French intelligence officers in Auckland harbour, killing a photographer.

Yesterday, she said the schooner was still a great symbol of hope and optimism.

The boat was making a stop in Bluff to drop off a few of the 15 crew on board - there were 28 people on board yesterday - before heading up to Wellington.

They had been delayed while arriving in the Port of Lyttleton last month because the port was nervous they were coming in as activists to protest, she said.

They waited off the coast several days until they were allowed into Lyttleton to clean the bottom of the boat before heading to the subantarctic islands.

It was not an uncommon problem because the Rainbow Warrior was known for its environmental activism, she said.

In 2008, the Rainbow Warrior II blockaded the Lyttleton port, preventing a ship carrying 60,000 tonnes of coal from leaving.

The latest documentary was to show the impact of deep-sea drilling. The schooner had been travelling in the areas where the Government had given out new deep-sea oil and gas exploration permits.

The Rainbow Warrior is leaving this morning and is due in Wellington on February 11.

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