Davey Edward, Rainbow Warrior campaigner in Rongelap, dies at 68

Davey Edward in RW workshop 1985
Greenpeace campaigner Davey Edward ... in the workshop on board the bombed ship Rainbow Warrior when he was chief engineer in 1985. Image: David Robie/APR

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

A former Rainbow Warrior campaigner and Greenpeace International technical manager, Davey Edward, has died in Perth, Australia. He was 68.

Edward had a long history with Greenpeace. He started sailing with the global environmental movement in 1983 and was chief engineer on board the first Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed by French secret agents in Auckland in 1985.

Earlier that year, he had been part of the Rainbow Warrior mission to relocate the Rongelap Atoll community in the Marshall islands who had suffered from US nuclear tests.

After that UK-born Edward sailed as chief engineer on several expeditions, including the Antarctic.

Since his sailing career, Edward returned several times to Greenpeace, and left Greenpeace in the early 1990s.

Since 2007, Davey Edward had filled the position of technical manager. Several times he left for other opportunities, although his passion for Greenpeace brought him back every time.

Edward always got back to his passion to fight for the environment, and always wanted to be on side to ensure that the ships would be ready for their next mission.

He also played a big role in the building of the new Rainbow Warrior and was at the construction in 2010.

About 5 years ago Edward was diagnosed with cancer – and the prognosis was very bad. The doctors told him he probably only had several months left, and he battled the cancer with the same determination and spirit that he had for his environmental battles.

He continued to work and support Greenpeace in the background after he left for Australia/ New Zealand for treatment in 2016, and surprised the doctors with his determination, strength and optimism during this fight.

Meanwhile, he continued to enjoy life, refurbishing a house in New Zealand and enjoyed good Belgian and other craft beers.

Davey Edward tribute photos
Davey Edward also played a big role in the building of the new Rainbow Warrior and was at the construction in 2010. Images via Justin Veenstra/Greenpeace

Crew planner Justin Veenstra at Greenpeace International recalls:

“When I talked to Davey last month, it was the first time in many years I heard serious doubts in his voice. He wanted to remain strong and positive, but got out after a hospital admission and it seemed that the doctor’s message that he had to start ‘making arrangements’ was a message he had to consider seriously.

“He mentioned he still hoped to go to his lovely wooden house in The Netherlands and catch up for a beer and discussion about the world and GP, but unfortunately he never made it.

“Last night, I got the message from his wife Patti that Davey had passed away at 0500 [Friday] morning. Things went down very quickly in the last few days and weeks …”

Waiheke Island environmental campaigner and author Margaret Mills, who was relief cook on the Rainbow Warrior in 1985 at the time of the bombing and Edward’s best friend over many years, recalls:

“When we last met on Waiheke, no matter what we talked about we always found something to laugh about. We both agreed that we loathed the expression ‘passed away’  because, as Davey said succinctly, ‘We aren’t going anywhere, we just die.’ He talked almost non-stop about all sorts of things — Taumarunui and how much he loved the place.

Davey Edward with fish
Davey Edward with a fish he caught off the side of the Rainbow Warrior in May 1985. Image: David Robie/APR

“We had been down to stay with him when he had nearly finished his massive restoration job. As with everything he did, he gave it everything he had and had done a magnificent job. At that time he was fighting cancer.

“His car, a Triumph, was to be sold because it is now worth a considerable sum. He had taken it to Timaru where there was an old mechanic who could get parts in the UK, but the car has now been inherited by John.

“I knew Davey and his family on a more personal level than anyone else. I babysat John, I found them a place to rent on Waiheke. John thinks of me as his grandmother.

“They were happy days on board the Rainbow Warrior.”

Eyes of Fire author David Robie remembers Davey Edward as a determined, courageous and principled campaigner, “always dedicated to improving Greenpeace’s marine protest and ship strategies no matter what”.

“One of the old school campaigners, he will be sorely missed by his colleagues and friends.”

Edward is survived by his wife, Patti, his son John, and his two granddaughters.

Davey Edward (right) witjh Henk Haazen and David Robie 1986
Davey Edward (right) with Rainbow Warrior crewmate Henk Haazen and Eyes of Fire author David Robie on board the Rainbow Warrior before the final sinking as a dive site off Matauri Bay in 1987. Image: © John Miller
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  1. Lived in Majuro when the Rainbow Warrior docked, prior to its bombing in South Pacific. Hope that in USA, the debacles in the ME will shift public opinion away from our war mad society, here in the USA. Greenpeace, and its leaders, like this gentleman, are needed more than ever.

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