Islands of the Empire
Extras: 2 hours of bonus material including campaign video No Spy Waihopai
Duration: 182 minutes (including extras)
Year: 1985 (2020 reissue)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Directors: Russell Campbell, Alister Barry and Rod Prosser
Islands of the Empire was produced in 1985, at the height of the anti-nuclear movement in Aotearoa New Zealand. The documentary traces the history of NZ’s military alliance with the US, from World War II, with the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, through to the Vietnam War and beyond. It examines US military installations in NZ and the often successful campaigns against them, while demonstrating that defence research, joint military exercises and military procurement in this country have all been designed for integration into the US war machine and the consolidation of American power in the Pacific. The film concludes with the massive anti-nuclear movement culminating in the election of a Labour Government committed to banning visits of nuclear warships.
For this reissue the film has been digitally restored and is accompanied by bonus features which examine developments in the relationship since 1985, including the nuclear-free legislation, New Zealand’s expulsion from ANZUS, and the military co-operation which nevertheless continued. Experts and activists Murray Horton, Keith Locke, Maire Leadbeater and Nicky Hager tell the story of how the American alliance has propelled New Zealand into prolonged conflicts in the Middle East, while defence procurement has involved huge unnecessary expenditure and the Waihopai satellite spy base serves American strategic interests. On the other hand campaigning and public pressure have led to the country taking a prominent position in international nuclear disarmament initiatives, the abolition of the RNZAF air combat force, and the use of the armed services in peacekeeping roles.
This DVD also includes the 16-minute campaign video No Spy Waihopai, produced in 1988 as the spy base was being built in order to alert New Zealanders to the foreign object about to be injected into their midst.
Media Peace Award 1985