"Most New Zealanders watched David Lange contest and win the 1985 Oxford Union debate, arguing the proposition that 'nuclear weapons are morally indefensible' with a mixture of pride and astonishment. After decades of knowing our place, and several years of government by homunculus, suddenly we had a Prime Minister who could stride the international stage with insouciance. And briefly, we seemed to matter.
Although New Zealand's nuclear-free policy did not become law until 1987, it was integral to early years of the fourth Labour government. The 1984 snap election that made Lange Prime Minister was called by Robert Muldoon when National MP Marilyn Waring withdrew her support for her party over the issue of nuclear ship visits. Labour won the election with a nuclear ban as a flagship policy.
The policy was popular among New Zealanders, but not without cost. Our relationship with the US deteriorated in the early weeks of 1985. On the same journey that took him to Oxford, Lange, four days before the debate, met with a US State Department official who outlined the retaliatory measures that the US would be taking against New Zealand. The ANZUS alliance of which New Zealand had been part since 1951 was effectively cancelled at that meeting."
(Public Address, 14 October 2004)
This is the introduction to the transcript of the Rt. Hon. David Lange's 1985 Oxford Debate. The transcript is copyright to Public Address. It was prepared by Russell Brown and Fiona Rae, with the consent of David Lange. Thanks are due to Radio New Zealandís Sound Archives/Nga Taonga Korero (File: Media Numbers T4705 to T4708), Infofind, the Parliamentary Library and Barry Hartley.
"The Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements (ATNS) project is an ARC Linkage project examining treaty and agreement-making with Indigenous Australians and the nature of the cultural, social and legal rights encompassed by past, present and potential agreements and treaties. The project also examines the process of implementation and the wider factors that promote long term sustainability of agreement outcomes."
(Indigenous Studies Program, The University of Melbourne)
"New Zealand did not have its own constitutional government until 1853, when the Imperial Parliament's New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 was implemented. Until that time, New Zealand was a Crown colony. The power vested in the Crown by the various Acts of Parliament relating to New Zealand was in turn vested in the governor. The colonial secretary issued him with instructions as to how this authority was to be exercised. In a colony with only one governor, none of the executive powers were delegated. He could take advice from subordinates but nothing could be done without his authority. In theory once lieutenant-governors were appointed, as in New Zealand after 1846, they would conduct the administration of their provinces, and certain executive powers would be delegated to them under the supervision of the governor-in-chief.
New Zealand was initially under the adminstration of the New South Wales governor, Sir George Gipps. On 3 May 1841 the country became a Crown colony in its own right and Hobson was elevated from lieutenant-governor to governor. Hobson died on 10 September 1842 after a series of illnesses which left many of his duties to his few officials. His replacement was Captain Robert FitzRoy, governor from 26 December 1843 until 17 November 1845. It was during his term of office that the Otakou purchase was negotiated. The Hobson and FitzRoy administrations were periods of considerable economic and political difficulty. Government was severely under-resourced and under-funded. Tensions between Maori and settlers, and between both races and the Crown remained unresolved. With the appointment of Captain George Grey, backed by Imperial troops and much stronger financial support, the Crown was able to take the initiative."
(The Ngāi Tahu Report 1991, Section 5.2.1, Waitangi Tribunal, Department of Justice, Wellington)