The visit sparked anti-nuclear rallies on land and sea. Visits by nuclear ships became an election issue in 1984 and they were later banned by David Lange’s Labour government.
Visits from warships like the Texas had been controversial for a number of years. Two nuclear-powered cruisers, USS Truxtun and USS Long Beach, had attracted protest when they visited New Zealand in 1976. On each occasion, Civil Defence established a public safety headquarters for the duration of the visit. Similar action was taken for the visits of the submarines USS Pintado in 1978 and USS Haddo in 1979.
At issue was whether these ships were nuclear-armed as well as nuclear-powered. American policy was to ‘neither confirm nor deny’ this, and most allies chose not to ask – an arrangement that made many people uncomfortable.