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'No nukes in the Pacific' poster, 1984

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1988-0009-2 No Nukes in the Pacific, poster

This is a screenprinted poster created in 1984 by the Australian printmaker Pam Debenham. A cropped figure wearing a brightly coloured shirt stands in front of an orange and black sea, above which appear the words 'NO NUKES IN THE PACIFIC'. The shirt is patterned with coconut palms on atolls, interspersed with nuclear clouds and the names of atolls where testing has occurred, including 'Marshall Is', 'Bikini' and 'Moruroa Atoll'. Yachts are sailing between the islands and atolls. Across the bottom of the poster are the words: 'FOR A NUCLEAR FREE AND INDEPENDENT PACIFIC'. At the foot, to the left, is the name 'TIN SHEDS' and a series of numbers; to the right is the copyright symbol and the artist's name. The poster measures 87.9 cm x 62.0 cm.

Source Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tomgarewa

Educational value:
  • 'No nukes in the Pacific' is a protest poster against nuclear testing in the Pacific - Pam Debenham (1955-) stated that it was a response to her concern during the 1980s about the build-up of arms by the superpowers and the 'continued nuclear blasts in the Pacific'.
  • The poster was made in the last quarter of the 20th century, a period of protest, agitation and pressure for change over a wide range of issues, including indigenous issues, equality for women, racial discrimination, foreign policy, gay rights, war and nuclear weapons.
  • The images of nuclear mushroom clouds highlight the issue of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific - between 1945 and 1992 the French, British, and US governments conducted around 1,300 official nuclear tests that have led to environmental damage, forced evacuations of indigenous peoples, and caused long-term health issues for those exposed to the fallout.
  • The poster is a product of a peace movement that became aligned with the anti-nuclear movement - the boat on the shirt has a peace symbol on its sail; the peace movement opposed nuclear testing in the Pacific and visits by nuclear-armed and powered ships.
  • The anti-nuclear movement led, in 1985, to the then New Zealand prime minister David Lange outlawing visits by nuclear-powered and -armed vessels, declaring NZ to be nuclear-free, a position it still holds today - in the same year prime minister Lange won the argument for an anti-nuclear world at the Oxford Union Debate.
  • 'No nukes in the Pacific' was produced a year before the bombing in 1985 of the Greenpeace ship 'Rainbow Warrior' in Auckland Harbour - the 'Rainbow Warrior' was preparing to make a protest voyage to the French nuclear test site at Moruroa Atoll; as a result of the bombing, one of the crew, photographer Fernando Pereira, died and the ship was sunk; the French Government paid compensation to New Zealand of NZ$13 million, admitting that it had ordered the bombing.

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