The Rainbow Warrior Affair

Diary compiled by Mike Andrews
(Secretary of the Dargaville Maritime Museum)

The Rainbow Warrior, flagship of the International Greenpeace Environment Organisation, sailed into Waitemata Harbour on Sunday 7 July, 1985 to join other vessels on a protest voyage to the nuclear test site at Mururoa Atoll.

The following is a chronological account of the developments in the affair:-

23.4.85 Christine Huguette Cabon, aged 33, a Lieutenant in the French Army and working for the DGSE, arrived in Auckland under the name of Frederique Bonlieu with orders to infiltrate the Greenpeace Organisation. She carried out this task and gained a considerable amount of information about the proposed berthing arrangements for the visit of the Rainbow Warrior. She also gathered information on vehicle hireage, coastal harbours and boat charter rates. She left New Zealand on 24 May, 1985.

22.6.85. The yacht "Oueva" from New Caledonia entered the difficult, and relatively deserted Parengarenga Harbour, bounding over the bar at the entrace, into the harbour itself. The Ouvea had a crew of four, Chief Petty Officer Roland Verge (alias Raymonde Velche), Petty Officer Gerald Andries (alias Eric Audrenc), Petty officer Jean-Michel Barcelo (alias Jean-Michel Berthelo) and finally a docter Xavier Christian Jean Maniguet. The three Navy men were all combat frogmen and employed by the DGSE. They were interviewed by park Ranger Hec Crene on the 23rd and advised to see Customs in Paihia as soon as possible. Hec also rang Lew Sabin of Customs in Whangarei and advised him.

22.6.85. Major Alain Mafart, aged 34, (alias Alain Turenge of Switzerland) and Captain Dominque Prieur, aged 36 (alias Sophie Turenge, also of Switzerland) arrived at Auckland Airport from Paris via Honolulu. Both were in the French Army and Mafart was also a graduate of the Combat Frogman School at Asporetto as were the three Navy men on the Ouvea.

23.6.85. Lieutenant Colonel Louise-Pierre Dillais of the DGSE (alias Jean Louis Dormand) arrived at Auckland Airport. He booked in at the South Pacific Hotel not far from the Travelodge where the Turenges were staying. This man would eventually head the sabotage team.

29.6.85. The Ouvea arrives in Whangarei Harbour and ties up in the Town Basin.

7.7.85. Alain Tonel, aged 33, and Jaques Camurier, aged 35, arrived at Auckland Airport. These two men claim to be physical training instructors at a girls school in Papeete, but in reality are also DGSE agents. It is Camurier who would later plant the charges on the ship, with Tonel in support. The French Government would later, reluctantly, give information about all the rest of the team, but would say absolutely nothing about these two.

Later at 12.15pm, another man, Francois Regis Verlet arrived at Auckland Airport from Tokyo. He was used for last minute reconaissance of the ship in Auckland. Like the other two men, no information was ever forthcoming from France about him or his place in the DGSE.

7.7.85. The Rainbow Warrior arrived in Auckland Harbour and tied up at the Marsden Wharf.

10.7.85. AT 10 minutes to midnight a bomb blast rips open the Rainbow Warrior, moored at Marsden Wharf. A crew member, photographer, Fernando Pereira, aged 36, the father of two young children, tries to retrieve his equipment. A second bomb explodes. As the Rainbow Warrior sinks, Pereira drowns.

Early Alert

11/7/85. New Zealanders awake to hear that their country has hosted its first international terrorist act. One of the nations biggest police investigations is launched under the direction of Scottish born Detective Superintendant Allen Galbrath.

Jean Louis Dormand, Alain Tonel and Jaques Camurier arrive in the South Island, in a campervan rented by Dormand.

As the police begin checking outward airline passenger lists, a tip from a neighbourhood watch group on the Auckland waterfront the night before, leads to an early alert to Newmans Motor Caravans to watch for the return of a campervan hired by a man and a woman.

12.7.85. "In no way was France involved" says Mr Charles Montan, political consellor at the French Embassy in Wellington. "The French Government does not deal with its opponents in such ways".

About the same time as Mr Montan is talking, the police swoop on Newmans in Mt Wellington, Auckland, where a French speaking couple have just returned a campervan, registration LB 8945. The man and woman, whose Swiss passports identify them as Sophie and Alain Turenge, are questioned at length.


15.7.85. Acting on leads, a squad of Auckland detectives fly to Norfold Island to interview the crew of the Noumea charter yacht Ouvea, which was en route to New Caledonia.

Before the Air Force Andover carrying the police arrives, one Ouvea crewman, Dr Xavier Maniguet, from Dieppe, France, a diving medicine specialist, flies to Sydney.

16.7.85. The detectives question the three remaining crew members, Raymonde Velche, Jean Michel Berthelo and Eric Audrenc, who claim to be French tourists. Scrapings are taken from the bilges of the yacht to check for explosives, and the detectives find a map of Auckland with a Ponsonby address written on it. But the police lack evidence to hold the crew, and the Ouvea sails purportedly to Noumea. The yacht never arrived at Noumea and is presumed to have been scuttled at sea.

The Turenges, meanwhile appear in the Auckland District Court on immigration charges. Their passports, airline tickets and driving licences are ordered to be surrendered to the court

23.7.85. Jean Louis Dormand leaves New Zealand from Christchurch.


24.7.85. Sophie and Alain Turenge appear in court charged with murdering Fernando Pereira, conspiring with each other and with others to commit arson and wilfully damaging the Rainbow Warrior by means of explosives.

26.7.85. The tests of the Ouvea scraping come back from the laboratory, they are positive. It was this vessel that bought the explosive to New Zealand. Warrants are issued for the arrest of the three Ouvea crew interviewed on Norfold Island. The warrants cite charges of murder, arson and conspiracy to commit arson.

As a result of the map found on the Ouvea, the Police and the public learn that a Frenchwoman, calling herself Frederique Bonlieu had attached herself to Greenpeace, gathering details about the harbour and the Rainbow Warrior. The woman is now working on archaeological site in Israel. A New Zealand detective plans to go there.

Alain Tonel and Jaques Camurier leave New Zealand from Auckland.

31.7.85. Christine Cabon (Frederique Bonlieu) disappears from Israel.


8.8.85. Almost a month after the bombing, the French media have started investigating possible links with the secret service (DGSE). The growing speculation prompts the French Government to appoint Counsellor of State, Bernard Tricot to enquire into the allegations.

9.8.85. President Mitterand of France condemns the Rainbow Warrior bombing as a "criminal attack" and promises stern punishment if allegations that French agents were involved prove to be true.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Lange, Mr Mitterand writes: "I intend that this affair be treated with the greatest severity and that your country be able to count on Frances full cooperation."

22.8.85. Detective Superintendant Galbraith is told by French authorities that Sophie Turenge is really Captain Dominique Prieur, a French Army Officer based in Paris.

23.8.85. DGSE sources confirm that the woman known in Auckland as Bonlieu is really Christine Cabon, a Lieutenant in the DGSEs intelligence wing.

26.8.85. The so called Tricot Report is realeased. It says there is no evidence that the French Government ordered the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. The report confirms that Dominique Prieur is a DGSE agent. So is her companion Alain Turenge, now identified as Commander Alain Mafart. Also confirmed as DGSE agents are the three Ouvea Crew members who have suddenly now appeared in Paris. They are named as Rolande Verge, Jean-Michel Barcelo and Gerald Andries.


Mr Tricot says the five agents were authorised to infiltrate Greenpeace and to consider ways to counter its activities, but not to carry out any actions. "At the present state of my information" he believes the two agents held in Auckland are innocent.

The report and its implications that the agents were passive observers, and had no part in the bombing, is widely slated as a white wash. So hostile is the reaction that Mr Tricot tells reporters he has not excluded the possibility he was deceived. And the French prosecutors office in Paris says the three Ouvea crew members will not be extradited to New Zealand because they have French Nationality.

Fresh Investigation

28.8.85. The French Prime Minister, Mr Fabius, says: "If it were to appear that criminal acts have been committed by French nationals, judicial action will be immediately exercised......."........Our condemnation is not, as has sometimes been rumoured, a condemnation against the poor execution of a questionable project. It is an absolute condemnation against a criminal act. The guilty, whoever they be, have to pay for this crime."

5.9.85. Mr Fabius orders a fresh investigation into the French links with the bombing, saying he wants the truth.

21.9.85. The French Defence Minister, Mr Charles Hernu, resigns and the DGSE head, Admiral Pierre Lacoste, is sacked after the Admiral refuses to reply to questions from Mr Hernu about the affair.

Writing to President Mitternad, Mr Fabius says: "I have always believed that in the affair of the attack against the Rainbow Warrior, the French Government should follow one rule, search for the truth."

23.9.85. Mr Fabius calls an urgent press conference and announces: "Agents of the DGSE sank the boat. They acted on orders."

"The people who merely carried out the act, must, of course, be exempted from blame; it would be unnacceptable to expose members of the military, who only obeyed orders and who, in the past, have sometimes carried out very dangerous missions on behalf of our country."


4.11.85. In a last minute shock, Mafart and Prieur change their pleas and admit lesser charges of manslaughter and wilful damage. The pair spend less than an hour in the Old High Court in Auckland, which is crowded with foreign journalists awaiting the expected depositions hearing on the murder and arson charges.

22.11.85. Marfart and Prieur are sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in New Zealand. Paris newspapers immediately call for an early extradition of the pair, while Mr Lange is silent on the sentence.

In passing the sentence, the Chief Justice, Sir Ronald Davidson, says: "People who come to this country and commit terrorist activities cannot expect to have a short holiday at the expense of our Government and return home heroes."


27.11.85. Just days after the sentences are handed down, the first calls come from within France for sanctions against New Zealand products if the two agents are not sent home.

30.1.86. Talks between the French and New Zealand Governments for compensation for the bombing reach a stalemate as the French Government presses for the return of the agents.

1.2.86. The masts from the Rainbow Warrior are erected at the Dargaville Maritime Museum.

21.2.86. France puts a partial ban on New Zealands $8.5 million lambs brains exports. Exporters, complain of difficulties in having their meat and vegetable products accepted in New Caledonia.

3.3.86. French retaliation escalates, a wide variety of products are now caught in the trade ban - fish, canned kiwifruit, urea and lamb.

1.4.86. Jaques Chirac, head of a right wing Gaullist party and a strong critic of New Zealand, becomes Prime Minister of France.


7.4.86. Former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau is suggested as a possible mediator in the growing row between New Zealand and Fance but rejects the proposal.

1.6.86. The Dutch Prime Minister steps into the dispute with the suggestion of independant arbitration as a possible solution to the deadlock.

17.6.86. United Nations Secretary General, Mr Xavier Perez de Cuellar, agrees to become mediator between the French Government and New Zealand.

20.6.86. The New Zealand Government agrees to take the dispute to Mr Perez de Cuellar. Both New Zealand and France agree to abidy by his ruling.


July 1986. Almost a year later, in the terms of the ruling, France paid the New Zealand Government $13 million in compensation. Also in terms of the ruling, Prieur and Mafart were released by New Zealand to spend three years confined to the island of Hao, in French Polynesea. Joel Prieur, Dominiques husband if made Head of Security at Hao Atoll.

12.12.87. The hull of the Rainbow Warrior is sunk of the Cavalli Islands in Northland. The site is marked with a permanent buoy, so that divers may come and examine the ship until such time as she rusts away. On the hills above the bay a memorial is erected, at the instigation of Dover Samuels, to commemorate the ship, the aims of Greenpeace and Fernando Pereira.

14.12.87. Alain Mafart repatriated to France due to a mysterious stomach ailment, which can not be treated on Hao.

17.3.88. In a letter to a friend, Dominique Prieur comments she is still handling the situation at Hao, but it will not be for much longer.

29.3.88. Alain Mafat appointed to the College of War (L Ecole de Guerre) probably for a two year course before taking on a Staff position.

6.5.88. Dominique and Joel Prieur are repatriated home to France. Dominiques father is reportedly suffering from terminal cancer.

26.11.91. Swiss authorities arrest Gerald Andries, one of the Ouveas crew in Basle, Switzerland, on the warrant issued in 1985, and advise the New Zealand Police. He is to be held while New Zealand Police assemble a case for extradition.

5.12.91. Pressure is again applied from France, aimed at crippling the New Zealand exports. The French claim the settlement covered all the agents not just Mafar and Prieur. They aim to stop the attempt to extradite Gerald Andries.

18.12.91. New Zealand Government drops the attempt to extradite Gerald Andries, to stand trial in New Zealand. Eighty-five affidavits had been sworn by the Police and witnesses and the case was nearly prepared, however political pressure was intense and the former Labour Prime Minister backed the Governments retreat on the case.

A Greenpeace Organisation spokesman described the New Zealand Governments decision as spineless.

Rainbow Warrior

The ship was built in Aberdeen and used for research purposes by the British Ministry of Agriculture, before becoming a North Sea fishing vessel. It was bought by Greenpeace for about $70,000 in 1978, and was engaged in campaigns against Icelandic, Spanish and Russian whaling activity, the harvesting of seal pups in Canada, and the dumping of nuclear waste by France and Britain. When the decision was made to mount a demonstration against French nuclear testing in the Pacific, the ship was refitted and sent to Auckland in 1985.

Suggested reading: "The Death of the Rainbow Warrior" by Michael King.

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