Listen: Operation Grapple Panel Discussion

Wednesday 01 June 2022

This panel discussion, recorded at on 13 May at Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand, examines Aotearoa New Zealand's involvement in the British nuclear tests known as Operation Grapple, and the ongoing consequences for the sailors involved.

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New Zealand Nuclear Testing Veterans Association President Tere Tahi. Photo by Denise Baynham, All Rights Reserved

In 1957 and 1958, the New Zealand Government sent navy ships and hundreds of sailors to support British nuclear testing in the Pacific. Over the course of nine nuclear tests, one of which was hundreds of times larger than the Hiroshima bomb, 551 navy personnel manned the New Zealand ships. Their duties included witnessing the detonation of the nuclear devices and collecting weather data as close as 37 kms from Ground Zero.

Radiation from the nuclear blasts has had long-term effects on the veterans and their families. In the portrait exhibition Operation Grapple: We Were There, photographer Denise Baynam honours these veterans and gives them the chance to the stories of their experience in their own words.

In this panel discussion, chaired by Canterbury Museum Exhibitions Manager Neil Phillips, Denise was joined by New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans' Association President Tere Tahi, as well as Dr Al Rowland, from the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at Massey University, who has studied the legacies of radiation exposure on the Operation Grapple veterans.

Click the play button below to listen to the discussion, or visit our Soundcloud.


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