Twenty-five years ago, in 1987, New Zealand became nuclear-free. The Nuclear-Free Act was passed by the Labour government when David Lange was the Prime Minister. The Act would not allow any ships which were nuclear powered or had nuclear weapons to enter our ports. As a result of that, the US could not bring any of its military ships into New Zealand. Before that, our country had been on friendly terms with the US who sometimes wanted to bring ships here for their crew to have a break from being at sea. The US therefore refused to allow New Zealand navy ships to visit any US military facilities around the world.
Last Friday, this policy changed. The US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, visited New Zealand and said the US would be happy to work with the New Zealand navy and would allow our ships to visit US military ports.
The background to the nuclear-free policy was partly because of the French nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1970s and 80s. New Zealanders were strongly opposed to these tests. Listen to July 9th 2010 to hear about the nuclear tests and the bombing of the Greenpeace ship, The Rainbow Warrior.
Now, however, the US is more interested in the Asia-Pacific region. Leon Panetta has just visited China and Japan. New Zealand also is more interested in working with the US. We have sent 180 soldiers to Afghanistan since 2009. Ten of these have been killed, five in last month including the first New Zealand woman soldier. We now share some of the pain with the US.
• Past perfect tense – ‘Before that, our country had been on friendly terms with the US’. We use past perfect to show one action happened in the past before another action in the past. However, it is not a common tense and in speaking we often use simple past, especially if there is a time expression like ‘before that’.
• Present perfect tense – ‘We have sent 180 soldiers … since 2009.’ This started in 2009 and continues today.
• An Act is a law passed by Parliament
• facilities – ports and buildings
• policy – government beliefs and action
• oppose (to) – against
1. Why is the US more interested in the Asia Pacific region today?
2. Why is New Zealand interested in a friendship with the US?