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Harbour restrictions for naval party

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/10/2016

Parts of Auckland's harbours will be restricted zones during next month's Naval Review to mark the New Zealand Navy's 75th anniversary.

The government has declared it a Major Maritime Event, which allows restrictions to be imposed when navy ships from 12 countries arrive to take part.

The United States and China are among the countries sending warships.

The visit by the destroyer USS Sampson will mark the first time in more than 30 years that an American warship has entered a New Zealand port.

The decision by the US to send it ended the stand-off over New Zealand's anti-nuclear laws.

Ther USS Sampson isn't nuclear armed or nuclear powered.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced the restrictions on Thursday for the review that takes place between November 10 and 22.

"Vessels not participating in the Naval Review will be required to stay clear of restricted zones in Waitemata Harbour, Rangitoto Channel and sections of the inner Hauraki Gulf," he said.

"A 12 knot speed restriction will be in place ion Auckland Harbour, and diving and swimming within the permit area will be prohibited."

Mr Bridges says similar restrictions were in place for the America's Cup.

The imposition of restricted zones raises the possibility of strife on the water if anti-war campaigners go ahead with their plan to meet the ships with a protest flotilla.

After the USS Sampson's visit was announced, Auckland Peace Action said it would send out protest vessels because the review was about preparing New Zealand for war.

"The naval training exercises in the Hauraki Gulf are the real reason for this US warship visit," said spokeswoman Valerie Morse.

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