Never again: Atomic bomb witness urges New Zealand to lead on ending nuclear weapons

Taeko Yoshioka Braid's classroom lit up when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. At first the class thought it was like any other bomb - but it was soon clear it was something new, on an unimaginable scale.

It's been 75 years but she still can't talk about the things she saw after the class loaded up a truck with supplies and drove 60km into the city.

On Thursday, Ms Yoshioka Braid travelled from Hastings to ask New Zealand's politicians to help make sure the same thing never happens again. She urged them to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which would formally outlaw nuclear weapons.

The two nuclear bombs the United States dropped on Japan in 1945 are known for the immediate, widespread devastation they caused to a civilian population. At least 129,000 people were killed. Six days after the bomb on Nagasaki was dropped, Japan surrendered.

"If anyone went [to Hiroshima] on the day the bomb dropped, I'm sure they would all think, just like me, never again," Ms Yoshioka Braid told Newshub.

"Once you arrived on the ground, it was not funny at all. They lost everything. Mothers, fathers, school students making clothing and shoes were all affected by this bomb."

"There was little children who couldn't find their parents and the parents looking for little ones. They can't find the children. Quite a few were like that all over the place."

Taeko Yoshioka Braid (R) with her daughter Jacky Yoshioka Braid at Parliament.
Taeko Yoshioka Braid (R) with her daughter Jacky Yoshioka Braid at Parliament. Photo credit: Anna Bracewell-Worrall/Newshub.

She described being confused about a sticky substance under her shoes. A living nightmare - it was the skins and remains of burned humans.

"It was [around 8am] and it was a school starting time, so mothers were taking children to school. On the way, the bomb dropped, and that bomb was so strong that people just died. [Some] were still alive but can't move or can't call a name or anything.

"[It's] very difficult to explain. I don't want the same things to happen anywhere in the world, anywhere in the world."

Pikadon is a name used to describe the bomb in Japan. 'Pika' refers to the flash of light emitted before the huge boom - the 'don'.

"I want people to live in happiness, singing songs and looking for beautiful flowers but when the bomb dropped, everyone gone. We don't want the pikadon ever again," Ms Yoshioka Braid said.

Ms Yoshioka Braid came to New Zealand in 1956 after marrying a New Zealand solider stationed in Korea.

Her fifth daughter, Jacky Yoshioka Braid, accompanied her mother to Parliament on Thursday.

"I think it's really important New Zealand takes this leadership role," Jacky said.

"Stop this fantasy around this nuclear war we could possibly survive. It won't happen. We saw what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They were tiny compared to what could happen today."