Cook Is

Tau & Wayne Meyer, Rarotonga 2008

Tau & Wayne Meyer, Rarotonga 2008

Cook Islanders may have been exposed to radiation
from British nuclear tests.

Ten year-old Tauariki Meyer was on the beach at Rakahanga atoll in 1957 when she saw a brilliant flash across the sky. Tau reports that the ground shook, then later the lagoon changed color and fish floated up dead.

It’s likely she witnessed the first British H-bomb test at Malden Island, about 1,200 km to the northeast. Around 1,600 people were living on the islands of Rakahanga, Manihiki and Penrhyn islands in the Northern Cook Islands group in the late 1950s, and may have been exposed to fallout from a series of atmospheric thermonuclear tests.

Some reports say Penrhyn was used as a weather and seismic monitoring station for Britain’s Operation Grapple tests, but it’s not known what effects radiation or radioactive fallout may have had on nearby islands. No information was released, and no studies have been done about effects of the nuclear explosions on weather patterns, ocean currents, rainfall, migratory fish, food sources or human health.

The Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister, Terepa’i Moate, may have witnessed the nuclear tests himself. As a young doctor serving on nearby Manihiki Island, Dr. Moate saw the explosive flash and later observed an outbreak of gastro-enteric illness in the Northern Cook Islands. He told a Cook Islands Research Association Conference in 2008 that he’d treated fatal cases of diarrhea and vomiting, and seen people with enlarged thyroids, but no-one made any connection to nuclear testing.

Tau Meyer is confined to a wheelchair with a diagnosis of spinocerebellar ataxia, a genetic condition that causes immobility and progressive degeneration. She can barely move or speak. Tau’s husband Wayne is her full-time caregiver.

The Meyers believe her condition was caused by exposure to nuclear radiation from the Operation Grapple tests. They’ve spoken to other Northern Cooks residents who report family members becoming ill with cancers and genetic disorders.

They have appealed to the New Zealand and Cook Islands governments without success.


Fallout from nuclear tests in the Pacific continues
Cook Islands Herald

One of the papers at the CI Research Association conference will be a presentation on the fallout from nuclear testing in the Christmas and Malden Islands in 1957 and 1958.

Couple seek nuclear compensation
TVNZ One News

A Cook Islands couple battling for compensation from British nuclear testing in the Pacific are bringing their fight to New Zealand.

Britain’s Best Kept Secret in the Islands
Islands Business

Faulty Geiger counters hid hydrogen bomb scam.

Rakahanga Fallout
Cook Islands Herald

Controversy continues over impact of n-bomb tests on Northern Group

Cook Islands nuclear test victim told by New Zealand to take issue up with the Cooks government
Radio New Zealand International

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says a Cook Islander’s claim over British nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s should be taken up with the Cook Islands Government.

Cooks government dismisses claim residents affected by British nuclear testing
Radio New Zealand International

The Cook Islands government is dismissing a claim some residents of the northern group may have been affected by British nuclear weapons testing on Christmas Island in the 1950s.

One Response to Cook Is

  1. Eric says:

    No matter how many people bring the subject matter regarding British Nuclear Tests in the late 1950’s – the UK Government pretends no-one was in any danger – nor are they suffering any medical problems relating to those Tests. In other words – “No way are we going to acknowledge medical problems associated with those Nuclear Tests. More so to those who were in direct contact with the tests, and the surrounding Islands within the “fallout areas”.

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