Published on May 20, 2013
Joining host, New Zealand broadcaster and author, Ray Waru (book link), discussed intriguing stories from New Zealand archives. He was given access to thousands of boxes that included records of secret tsunami-causing weapons, grisly exhibits from murder trials, and famous UFO sightings. Waru uncovered documents about ‘Project Seal,’ a joint US-New Zealand effort begun in 1944 to potentially create huge tsunami or tidal waves that could damage coastal cities or military sites. A US naval officer named Gibson came up with the idea when he noticed that unexpectedly large waves were produced when using explosions to clear coral reefs for military installations.
Some 4,000 experimental explosions were conducted off New Caledonia island, and while the tests showed promise using an array of explosions near the surface, its use as a tsunami weapon was shelved after the nuclear attacks on Japan, he recounted, suggested that the procedure had likely been developed for potential use against Japan during WWII. Waru delved into documents about UFO sightings in New Zealand that dated as far back as 1909, when a kind mystery “airship” described as a long black object was repeatedly seen. The pilot/adventurer Francis Chichester, who conducted the first solo flight between New Zealand and Australia in 1931, told of an encounter with a “dull grey-white airship” that almost collided with him during the flight.
Waru detailed the 1978 Kaikoura Lights sightings, in which pilots saw unexplained lights that seemed to move around their aircraft, and the objects were tracked by Wellington radar. Subsequently, a TV crew took the same route as the original flight, and saw and captured the mysterious lights on film, he reported. He also spoke about viewing a letter written by the great 18th century navigator Capt. James Cook, the treatment of the Maori in New Zealand, and a dolphin that guided ships in a stretch of water between two islands.
Ray Waru has been involved in the television and radio industries for more than 30 years. He joined Television New Zealand in 1977 and directed and produced such local favorites as ‘Fair Go’ and ‘Country Calendar’. In 1980 he established the first dedicated Maori television production unit in TVNZ which created a stream of primetime Maori and Pacifica series and documentaries. In 1989 he was appointed chief executive of the Aotearoa Maori Radio Trust and established a network of Maori radio stations throughout the country.
In recent years he has produced documentary projects on many subjects and worked with a diverse range of people including Alan Duff and Kiri Te Kanawa. In 2000, Waru co-produced the six-part history documentary series Our People, Our Century, which won Best Factual Series at the New Zealand Television Awards and in 2005 made the 13-part history of New Zealand, Frontier of Dreams, which won awards at the Houston International Film Festival and the US International Film and Video Festival. Waru has been involved with a range of organizations including the Peace Foundation, and has judged the Maori Record of the Year.
The tsunami bomb was an attempt during World War II to develop a tectonic weapon that could create destructive tsunamis. The project commenced after US Navy officer E.A. Gibson noticed small waves generated by explosions used to clear coral reefs. The idea was developed by the United States and New Zealand military in a programme code named Project Seal.
Tests were conducted by Professor Thomas Leech, of the University of Auckland, in Whangaparaoa off the coast of Auckland and off New Caledonia between 1944 and 1945. British and US defence chiefs were eager to see it developed, and it was considered potentially as important as the atomic bomb. It was expected to cause massive damage to coastal cities or coastal defences.
The weapon was only tested using small explosions and never on a full scale. 3,700 test explosions were conducted over a seven-month period. The tests revealed that a single explosion would not produce a tsunami, but concluded that a line of 2,000,000 kg (4,400,000 lb) of explosives about 8 km (5.0 mi) off the coast could create a destructive wave