Waiheke peace campaigner Maynie Thompson died on Saturday at the age of 98, but her activism lives on.
Maynie died of old age at her home in Putiki Road in Ostend, where she lived with her son, Nick Thompson.
Maynie’s granddaughter, Gretel Thompson, says Maynie is a “true inspiration and hero to New Zealand and Waiheke”.
“Not only did she make a stand for what she believed in, she walked the distance of true commitment to creating a safer New Zealand for generations to come,” Gretel says.
Fellow Waiheke activist Susi Newborn says Maynie was instrumental in urging the Labour government to declare New Zealand nuclear free in 1987.
“I doubt we would have nuclear free legislation if it wasn’t for her sheer persistence and stubbornness,” Susi says.
“She embodied the practice of non-violence – and she was very, very funny.”
Maynie joined the Waiheke Mum’s Army and in 1984 set off on a two-month Walk for Life on Earth to the steps of Parliament in Wellington, where she urged the Government to make the country nuclear-free.
Through her peace activism, she came to know former New Zealand Prime Ministers Helen Clark and David Lange.
With close friend Kit Nelson, Maynie sold tea and scones at Ostend Market to raise money for peace campaigns.
Later in 1984, the “feisty 65-year-olds” travelled to Britain to join thousands of women at Greenham Common Peace Camp, protesting against a United States air force base there that housed cruise missiles.
Susi says Maynie was arrested at Greenham Common, but remained undeterred. She protested for peace in Geneva and Germany, then headed to the US for the Great Peace March for Nuclear Disarmament.
Maynie walked for nine months from Los Angeles to New York then to Washington, before her “proudest moment” – speaking at a 1986 peace rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
When the French government resumed nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific in 1996, Kit and Maynie, then aged 77, were “back in action”, says Susi. They joined the Women’s Peace Flight to Tahiti to protest.
In 2009, Susi and Claudia Pond-Eyley directed a documentary called Kit and Maynie: Tea, Scones and Nuclear Disarmament to honour the remarkable women as they turned 90.
“I wanted to make sure the history of women like this, who were so instrumental in New Zealand’s anti-nuclear movement, was preserved,” says Susi.
Maynie gained a Queen’s Service Medal for her work in prisons and was involved as a dancer in Waiheke’s Hip Op-eration Crew.
Gretel says while her grandmother became a “local legend” through her peace activism, she was also a poet, single mother of five, grandmother of eight, and great grandmother of three.
Gretel has been inspired by her grandmother’s life to take part in protests, particularly for animal rights and conservation.
“She was a very inspirational person.
“Her life is a great reminder to stand up for what you believe in.
“Let’s not be a complacent generation. People power works,” says Gretel.
Many people were expected to attend Maynie’s funeral at Ostend Hall yesterday, wearing bright clothes because she loved rainbow hues. • Rose Davis