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Nuclear Reaction

Television (Full Length) – 1995

This 1995 documentary comprehensively plots New Zealand's progress from enthusiastic supporter of the atomic bomb in the 1940s to becoming proudly nuclear free by the late 1980s. The birthplace of "father of the atom" Ernest Rutherford willingly participated in British tests at Christmas Island in the 1950s (and looked eagerly for uranium in the Buller Gorge). But as testing increased in the Pacific, Prime Ministers Holyoake, Kirk and Lange voiced opposition. Moruroa, nuclear ship visit protests and the Rainbow Warrior bombing fuelled the anti-nuclear cause.

Uranium seemed to be a magic metal. It seemed to promise an inexhaustible supply of energy. It seemed to offer being on the very cutting edge of technology. Being involved in the bomb, being involved in reactor technology... all the bright young scientists wanted to work in the nuclear field.
– Scientist Neil Whitehead remembers the 1950s