ABC Campaign History

ABC, Harewood, 2001


As part of the mass movement in New Zealand against the Vietnam War, there were large and militant protests against the various specialist US military installations already in New Zealand, or proposed to be set up here, from the late 1960s onwards. These included the proposed Omega station, which was stopped by NZ protests, and relocated to Australia; the US Air Force's top secret Project Longbank, at RNZAF Base Woodbourne, which closed in the early 1970s; and the USAF's Mt John observatory, which was civilianised in the 1970s and relocated to Hawaii in the 1980s. Protests against the US Navy and Air Force base at Christchurch Airport (Harewood) and its communications facility at RNZAF Weedons were a central part of this early anti-bases campaign

Citizens for the Demilitarisation of Harewood (CDH) was formed in 1982 to research, educate and protest about the American military occupation of Christchurch International Airport (at Harewood). The local group evolved and expanded into a national Anti-Bases Campaign (ABC) in 1987. Major public protest at Harewood took place in the early 1970s but waned for several years until concern was revived about possible nuclear weapons on US military aircraft. US Air Force Starlifters and Galaxys serving military/intelligence bases in Australia were capable of carrying nuclear weapons through Christchurch on any of their regular weekly flights. Those flights continue to this day and are covered by the infamous “neither confirm nor deny” nuclear weapons policy. Although ABC does not consider it likely in the current regional political climate that nuclear weapons are actually on any of the flights, they do violate the spirit, if not the letter, of New Zealand’s Nuclear-Free Law, passed in 1987.

Anti-Bases concerns and actions have also included the Black Birch Observatory built in 1984-85 for the US Navy near Blenheim, and communications interception stations at Tangimoana and Waihopai. The four bases were considered to be foreign bases on NZ territory with direct or indirect involvement of the US military and/or intelligence agencies. The Black Birch Naval Observatory closed in the 1990s.

The satellite spy base at Waihopai became the focus of ABC attention in the late 80s and it still is. Numerous non-violent direct actions have taken place at Waihopai over the years in an attempt to educate the public and our legislators about this highly secretive, foreign-controlled spy facility. This effort has met with considerable success both nationally and internationally. Waihopai is part of an international spy network that has sparked outrage in Europe, an awakening due in large part to the groundbreaking research of ABC member Nicky Hager who published his seminal book “Secret Power” in 1996.

CDH and then ABC have published Peace Researcher since 1987. (Peace Researcher began publication in 1983.)