Rocket Lab launch for US military draws protests from Hawke’s Bay community

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Angry locals are holding a hīkoi in Māhia today to protest the latest Rocket Lab launch.

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The satellite, called Gunsmoke-J will test technologies that support the US Army. Photo: AFP PHOTO /ROCKET LAB/KIERNAN FANNING AND SIMON MOFFATT

The launch of a satellite for the US military yesterday has caused concern in the small Hawke’s Bay community between Napier and Gisborne.

The satellite, called Gunsmoke-J, will test technologies that support development of the US Army.

The community fears the activities could breach New Zealand’s nuclear free laws.

A group called Rocket Lab Monitor has been formed by wāhine Māori connected to Māhia and the nearby town of Wairoa.

It wants to ensure Rocket Lab activities are for peaceful purposes.

In a statement, Rocket Lab head of communications Morgan Bailey said the organisation “acknowledge and respect the hīkoi as an opportunity for people to share their views and have their voices heard”.

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“In addition to the community hui we hold in Māhia, we continue to invite anyone who has concerns about launch operations or payloads to get in touch.

“We encourage people to meet our team, see our operations and ask questions about New Zealand’s stringent space regulation.”

Police said they were aware of the protest and were ready to respond if issues arose.

The hīkoi organiser has been approached for comment.

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