nuclear-free New Zealand

Our nuclear-free stance has become a central part of New Zealand's modern identity, but Sir Geoffrey Palmer has revealed it may never had happened but for one thing

New Zealand's nuclear-free policy is one of the most nation-defining and profound policy decisions this country has made in the past generation; it striped to the bone our traditional alliances for nearly two decades, took us down a path to a more independent foreign policy and reinforced our sense of self as a mouse that can roar. Yet is so easily may not have happened.

Ignore the spin: The United States has backed down after 31 years and confirmed it will send a non-nuclear ship to New Zealand. The super power has lost. But does that mean New Zealand has won?

This is an historic day for New Zealand. The day the world's superpower blinked after a generation-long staring contest. The day America, in any meaningful sense, abandoned its 'neither confirm nor deny' policy. The day the mouse's roar was truly heard.

We might have fought over it, at the time. Sometimes, we fought bitterly. At Gallipoli, we lost; but we were on the right side of history, and we found a blood-coloured poppy, like a heartbeat in the dust. Later, it would dawn on us: this is who we are, New Zealand.

Last month, business force-for-good Pure Advantage launched their latest Green Race paper. “A race has begun, and we are in it,” they said, and they showed a short film.

Heather Roy reckons our nuclear-free policy is stopping a free-trade deal with the US. Someone needs to tell her that the '80s are over, Reagan isn't president anymore and Iowa doesn't give a toss

ACT's Heather Roy's had a tough year, being treated roughly by her own party and leader, and I can't help but feel some sympathy for her. Yet there was politlcal naivety in the way she tried to advance her leadership ambitions, and she doesn't seem to have learnt from that.

Talk about changing New Zealand's nuclear-free stance couldn't come at a worst time. It's a policy that's time has come and which is now more a national asset than ever

Timing is vital in politics. Sir Geoffrey Palmer knows that from harsh personal experience, having been handed the prime ministership just as the fourth Labour government went into terminal decline. So you've got to wonder why he chose this week of all weeks to pronounce that it would be not only possible, but "desirable" for US naval vessels to return to our ports.