17 June 2009 Auckland New Zealand – Vega, the 38ft veteran nuclear protest vessel, sailed back into Auckland harbour today, from Australia, making New Zealand her home port once again after more than 10 years.
Vega also has a long and respected history within the peace and environmental movement in the Pacific and around the world. The ketch is well known in the boat building community having been built in Whangarei in 1949 from one kauri log by one of New Zealands finest boat builders, Alan Orams.
Vega was involved with the Peace Squadron protests against nuclear vessels in New Zealand ports in the 1980s but, is probably best known for the nuclear free Pacific protest voyages, along with a flotilla of New Zealand boats, to Moruroa Atoll, in French Polynesia where the French Government conducted its nuclear testing programme until 1996.
Vega was purchased by David McTaggart, former Chairman of Greenpeace International in 1969 and worked on many Greenpeace campaigns around the world, except for a short period when it was in private ownership. In 2001 Vega was bequeathed to Chris Robinson, Vegas skipper for most of her journeys.
Sadly, Chris died in August of 2008 and with his wishes in mind, a small group of friends have purchased Vega and are setting up the Vega Pacific Trust based in New Zealand. The trust aims to use Vega for environmental, nautical and peace education for young people to enable them to take part in the preservation of our marine environment and to pass on an important part of New Zealands history.
The NZ Maritime Museum has graciously made a berth available for Vega inside the Maritime Museum marina downtown Auckland, and discussions are underway to find a permanent berth to make her accessible to the public.