International Disarmament Institute News

New Zealand Fallout Monitoring System Countries

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Starting in 1957, New Zealand (Aotearoa) established a monitoring system to detect radiation levels across the Pacific, sampling air, water, milk and fish at stations. Fallout from French nuclear weapons testing was detected in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu, New Zealand/Aotearoa, the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau. For our reports on these countries, click on links in the previous sentence. The following documents offer information on the humanitarian, human rights and environmental impact of fallout in the countries covered by the New Zealand monitoring system.

Key Indicators of Humanitarian, Human Rights and Environmental Harm from Nuclear Weapons in the Countries Covered by the New Zealand Fallout Monitoring System

  • New Zealand’s Fallout Monitoring System detected fallout across the South Pacific region, including in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tuvalu, New Zealand/Aotearoa, the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau. The entire current population of these states — almost 6 million people — may be considered potential victims of nuclear testing
  • A further 79,000 people live in the non-self-governing territories administered by the US, UK and France that were in the vicinity, but were not included in New Zealand’s monitoring system; it is possible they too may be considered potential victims of nuclear testing
  • There is evidence of ongoing venting and leaching of radiation from the test sites in French Polynesia/Te Ao Maohi, which may pose a threat to the marine environment of the South Pacific
  • 12,000 New Zealand/Aotearoa soldiers were exposed to radiation while participating in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) following the atomic bombings in Hiroshima. New Zealand/Aotearoa troops were deployed to UK test sites (11 in Australia; 551 to Kiribati). 551 New Zealand Navy sailors deployed to protest 1973 Moruoa tests. 
  • 276 Fijian troops participated in the UK nuclear weapons tests in Kiribati

Official Documents

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). (n.d.) “France’s Nuclear Testing Programme.” External link.

Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Samoa and Tuvalu. (3 March 2016) Elements for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. A/AC.286/WP.14. Geneva, UN General Assembly. External link.

International Court of Justice. (1973) Nuclear Tests (New Zealand vs. France). External link.

International Court of Justice. (1995) Nuclear Tests (New Zealand and Australia vs. France). External link.

Kiribati. (2014) “Joint Statement on Behalf of Pacific Island Nations: Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons Nayarit, Mexico, 13-14 February 2014.” External link.

K.M. Matthews. (1992/1993) Radioactive fallout in the South Pacific: A History. Part 2: Radioactivity measurements in the Pacific Islands. Christchurch, National Radiation Laboratory. Download.

National Radiation Laboratory. (1969-2011) Reports of the New Zealand Fallout Monitoring System. External link.

New Zealand Veterans’ Affairs. (2017) “Research on New Zealand’s nuclear veterans.” External link.

Samoa. (2014) “Statement to 2014 conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Nayarit, Mexico.” External link.

Academic Studies

Bengt Danielsson. (1990) “Poisoned Pacific: The Legacy of French Nuclear Testing.” Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. 46(2). pp. 22-31. External link.

Nic Maclellan. (2017) Grappling with the Bomb: Britain’s Pacific H-Bomb Tests. Acton, ANU Press. External link.

Rebekah Leigh Johnson. (2009) “Psychological Fallout”: The Effects of Nuclear Radiation Exposure.” Doctor of Clinical Psychology thesis, Massey University. External link.

Sue Rabbitt Roff. (1999) “Mortality and morbidity of members of the British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association and the New Zealand Nuclear Tests Veterans Association and their families.” Medicine, conflict and survival. 15(Suppl. 1). pp. i-ix, 1-51. External link.

Catherine Trundle. (2011) “Searching for Culpability in the Archives: Commonwealth Nuclear Test Veterans’ Claims for Compensation.” History and Anthropology. 22(4). pp. 497-512. External link.

M.A. Wahab et al. (2008) “Elevated chromosome translocation frequencies in New Zealand test veterans.” Cytogenetic and Genome Research. 12(2). pp. 79-87. External link.

Civil Society and Thinktank Studies

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). (n.d.) “Fangataufa and Moruroa, French Polynesia.” Hibakusha Worldwide. External link.

IPPNW. (1991) “Environmental Effects of French Nuclear Testing.” External link.

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