The new Greenpeace flagship is heading to Northland's Matauri Bay to pay tribute to the original Rainbow Warrior sunk in a 1985 bombing by the French secret service.

The vessel was later scuttled at the Cavalli Islands, off Matauri Bay, as a dive attraction, artificial reef and memorial, at the invitation of local hapū.

Members of Greenpeace and local hapū will head to the site on Monday morning to lay a wreath on the water and offer a blessing. The bombing killed Dutch-Portuguese crew member Fernando Pereira.

Matauri Bay is the first official stop on Greenpeace's Making Oil History tour, which the organisation says is a celebration of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration.


After the wreath laying Greenpeace representatives will be formally welcomed at Tapui Marae in Matauri Bay.

Dover Samuels, a former Māori Affairs Minister and Ngāti Kura elder who was instrumental in bringing the original Rainbow Warrior to Matauri Bay, said the site had become ''hugely significant'' with many thousands of people coming to dive the wreck and visit the memorial.

The new vessel's visit was a reminder of New Zealand's anti-nuclear commitment as well as other threats to Te Moana Nui (the oceans) such as oil drilling, pollution and plastics.

''How much can the ocean take before we get the message as kaitiaki (guardians)? The challenge needs to be taken up by the next generation, who fortunately seem to be more in tune with the environment than my generation at that time.''

After Matauri Bay the ship will head to Auckland for another welcome on Wednesday morning, this time by Kiwi musician Don McGlashan.

The 58m vessel, an A-frame staysail schooner which uses a combination of wind and diesel-electric propulsion, arrived without fanfare in Whangārei on August 23 for maintenance and a crew rest after a 35-day transit from Singapore.

Other stops on the tour will include Whangaparaoa Bay near East Cape, Wellington, Kaikōura, Christchurch, Dunedin and Stewart Island.

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman said the Rainbow Warrior linked the 2018 oil exploration ban and the 1987 nuclear weapons ban.


''In 1987 New Zealand was the first country to stand up to the world's nuclear powers, and in doing so we became leaders on the biggest global threat of the time. The Rainbow Warrior became part of our national identity, and for the many who still clearly remember the bombing, it's a symbol of New Zealand's successful nuclear free movement,'' he said.

''This year, we've once again become world leaders on what is now the greatest threat of our time. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was right when she called climate change this generation's nuclear free moment.''