ANZAC Waihopai Ploughshares

On 30 April 2008, Catholic priest Father Peter Murnane, farmer Samuel Land and teacher Adrian Leason entered Waihopai Spy Base near Blenheim and punctured an inflatable dome covering a satellite dish.

The three peace protesters believed the base was being used to further the Iraq war.

The action under the ANZAC Waihopai banner because it included Australian and New Zealand activists, was taken in the tradition of an international faith-based peace movement called Ploughshares that takes direct action at military bases and other sites of political power contributing to state-sanctioned violence around the world. A previous ANZUS Ploughshares was undertaken by US, Australian and NZ citizens in 1991.

Waihopai Spy Base near Blenheim has its satelite dish cover deflated by protesters over night.After a lengthy trial by jury the trio were acquitted of criminal charges in 2010, but the court found them liable for damages. The attorney-general filed trespass charges and sought the cost of repairs to the facility, put at $1.2m. The civil lawsuit was won in the High Court and the men had their appeal against it dismissed in October.

The Government announced in 2014 it was no longer suing the men for the money. The attorney-general has not commented on why the lawsuit has been dropped. Father Murnane, a Dominican friar in his early 70s, has not had a bank account for half a century. All three said they had no money to pay damages.

The activists were campaigning to close down Waihopai, a foreign spy base on New Zealand soil, as an attempt to advance the cause of peace and to draw attention to the spying activity of the GCSB.

The 5th Eye, a documentary about the action, trial and wider role of government spy networks in the service of war and powerful private interests is due for release in 2016.

More information about the action and related issues is available at: ploughshares.org.nz

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