letter about 1957 hydrogen bomb tests

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Kia orana, greetings,


Following is verbatim from a copy of a letter sent to the Home Office Secretary on 16 September 1996 and given to me three weeks ago as a journalist working here since arriving as a child in 1977 and working here since 1982.


I have not done anything with the letter until this morning when I saw your daily news email, which I signed up to less than three weeks ago, and the link to the 1957 hydrogen bomb blast.


The letter is signed by a Cook Islands woman, Ms. Tauariki Greig, whose partner, Mr. Wayne Meyer has apparently been lobbying on her behalf for many years. There is some slight confusion over dates, with some material mentioning 1956 and others 1958. I have not checked accuracy of the material but they have a great many more documents including correspondence of record to and from authorities in New Zealand and the UK.


My impression is that Mr. Meyer has drafted the following letter, including a quote from Ms. Greig about witnessing the actual test as a young child, then given the letter to her for approval and signing. In recent years, Ms. Greig has been diagnosed with, if I am not mistaken, a potentially terminal illness of some sort. Mr. Meyer claims to have had DNA testing done in New Zealand and that Ms. Greig is suffering genetic mutation. He says doctors are not able to exactly diagnose what Ms. Greig is suffering from and that this is in common with a wide range of symptoms reported by people in test zones in their fifties, sixties and seventies, such as Bikini Atoll.


For confirmation and further information you can contact them both directly at (country code)+682 (local 5-digit only number) …..


I am most happy to assist in any way further including digital photos of original artworks by Mr. Meyer depicting the event or typing in letters or arranging for them to be faxed.


Ms Greig’s letter as follows:


The Secretary

Home Office






Dear Sir,


I write to you on behalf of our descendants of our Great Grandfather William Greig the owner of Xmas Island and Fanning Island in the Pacific Ocean.


Following the Second World War the English Government obtained a lease over Xmas Island, and subsequently exploded a Hydrogen Bomb above the atoll.


Prior to the explosion in 1956 the families living on Xmas Island were relocated to the Northern Cook Islands.


During a recent family reunion in Tahiti comprehensive research uncovered some alarming discrepancies and events.


I wish to place these before you in the hope that the British Government can bring about a satisfactory solution.


Following the Hydrogen Bomb explosion on Xmas Island, William Greigs son’s office on Gilbert Island was broken into and the British Lease Document over Xmas Island was stolen. This lease document, evidently covered the financial compensation and rental payments to William Greig.


Until now, the Greig family have been unable to untangle this problem despite a previous approach to the British Government.


I recall the events at the time of the Hydrogen Bomb blast.


“I was 10 years old, living on Rakahanga when the Royal Navy and the new Zealand Navy visited our atoll to advise us that they were going to explode an atmospheric Hydrogen Bomb over Xmas Island. Part of the British Protectorate north of Rakahanga, we were told not to drink any water from our wells or roof tanks nor to eat any vegetation, crops or fish for at least three months. I cannot remember any food and water supplies being brought to Rakahanga for our survival following the ‘Blast’.”


Page 2 of Ms. Tauariki Greig letter 16 sep 1996


“I was playing hide and seek with my family; my father had hoisted me onto his shoulders to help me hide in a tree. It was a beautiful sunny clear day and I will never forget the flash of light brighter than the sun. Shortly after the ground shook. We didn’t know what was going to happen. That evening the whole sky turned red it stayed like that for about a week. A few A few days after the blast our lagoon changed colour and all of the fish died floated to the surface. Our parents wouldn’t let us eat the fish so the men buried them.”


“The aircraft carrier ‘Warrior’ never came back so we had to live on coconuts for three or four months.”


In this day and age no Government would be allowed to carry out such an act of destruction and walk away from their responsibilities.


At present in New Zealand compensation is being paid to sailors and families of the crews made to stand on the deck of the ships in boiler suits and dark glasses to witness the Hydrogen Bomb Blast.


This publicity has strengthened our determination to deal with and bring about an equitable solution to the dislocation suffered by our families.


A copy of this letter will be sent to the Prime Minister of New Zealand so that he may assist both ourselves and the British Government resolve this problem.


In the meantime could the Home Office please assist by forwarding a copy of the British Lease over Xmas Island and the terms of compensation payable to William Greig.


Also could your department advise us of payments made cheques drawn and presented in consideration of the lease.


Yours sincerely,


Tauariki Greig.




Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance. And, while I am at it, I wish BBC staff all the best in their fight against cutbacks.


Meitaki maata, many thanks,





jason brown

avaiki nius agency

798 ara maire nui dr.


cook islands

+682 53905 mb






Anonymous said...

My father Kenneth Mill was serving in the RAF on Xmas Island. No compensation for the veteran is available, as most of the veterans have suffered major health issues due to the H bomb testing. This has not only affected the servicemen but also there families. Both Goverments should take responsibity for these actions. Due to their lack of duty I would not let any of my family serve in any of the armed forces. I feel deeply for you and your family and hope that you gain a positive outcome in this matter.


Sharon Mill
Sunderland UK

Avaiki Nius said...

. . .

Many thanks Sharon. I will pass on your best wishes to the family.

It's been said that a society can be judged on how it treats its weakest. However I think an update courtesy of American documentary maker Mike Moore says it best: The weakness of a society can be judged by how it treats its heroes.

Badly, in this case, and many others.

. . .