Music from the anti-nuclear movement: New Zealand

Laka has a large collection of music (on vinyl, LPs & Singles and on CD or even VHS and Music Cassettes) supporting the anti-nuclear struggle. Most of these recordings are documenting a specific struggle in a specific era and location, and are living documents of that decennia long struggle. We’re focusing on officially released music, but if appropriate added some digital content too. Music is part of Laka's 'special collections' - the culture of the international anti-nuclear movement - which also includes a large collection of anti-nuclear songbooks, posters and graphic novels. If you have anything to add, want to make a contribution or an inquiry about a specific record, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Nuclear Waste + French Letter
Single 45 rpm, 1985

The anti-nuclear movement in New Zealand was well supported by musicians (listen to No Nukes - How NZ Music Helped Us Ban the Bomb). The reggae band Herbs composed several protest songs against French nuclear weapon testing in French Polynesia, including ‘Nuclear Waste’, ‘French Letter’, ‘No Nukes’, ‘Light of the Pacific’ (the ‘light’ being radioactive). Formed in 1980, the bands first recording, released July 1981, was the six-song EP Whats’ Be Happen? on the eve of an unpopular rugby tour of New Zealand by apartheid South Africa. The cover featured a photo of the controversial eviction of Maori land rights protesters from the disputed Bastion Point in Auckland. ‘French Letter’ was released in 1982 and became a popular hit and protest anthem. The song spent 11 weeks on the New Zealand charts, peaking at number 15. However, the name was considered too risque for radio, and the track was renamed ‘Letter to France’. The band re-released the track in 1995 when France briefly resumed testing.
In April 1986, Herbs alongside Neil Young and a re-formed Split Enz played at Mt Smart Stadium, for the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior Festival in April 1986. The concert was a fundraiser to help float a new Rainbow Warrior after the bombing of the original vessel in Auckland the previous July. (Herbs bio)