Monday, 30 January 2012 23:34

In Response to the Rena Oil Spill

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We want to express our concern for the Tauranga moana community over the crisis that has occurred along such a treasured coastline. As our previous research has shown, the coastal ecosystems and ecosystem services of Tauranga moana are highly valuable. However, some ecosystems have already suffered significant loss and degradation prior to this Rena oil spill. Such degradation occurs in a much less dramatic and visible way than through an oil spill, but nevertheless has a significant cumulative detrimental impact over time. Our research efforts have been and will continue to be focussed on identifying how and why such degradation is occurring, and planning for restorative actions to stem the decline of coastal resources that are most important to iwi and hapu.  

In response to the oil and cargo spill from the grounded Rena off the Tauranga coast last week, a number of initiatives have taken place. Mr Caine Taiapa, Manaaki Taha Moana (MTM) Research Leader for the Tauranga case study, is leading a team to undertake some baseline assessments of key shellfish beds in the southern part of the harbour, so that we have baseline data to assess the longer term impact of these pollutants on shellfish beds.

Other Massey University staff are heavily involved in the wildlife recovery centre. More information about this can be found here.

Likewise, colleagues from Cawthron Institute in Nelson are in Tauranga assisting in the recovery efforts, including one specialist who has recovery experience in dealing with Alaska’s Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster.

Colleagues from other Bay of Plenty tertiary education providers and Councils are also involved in collecting baseline data that will enable ongoing assessment of the impact of the oil spill on important ecosystems, and prioritising sites of high ecological and cultural value to try and protect these sensitive habitats. 

We understand that many hundreds of experts from throughout New Zealand and overseas are also working very hard on this recovery effort. 

The MTM team will continue to liaise with colleagues within our respective organisations (Massey University, Cawthron Institute, WakaDigital Ltd, Waka Taiao Ltd, and Manaaki Awanui Trust) and with tangata whenua of Tauranga moana to ascertain where our collective resources and expertise can best be utilised going forward. We will post updates on our website ( as more information comes to hand. For more information about our ongoing research, funded by the Ministry for Science and Innovation (2009 – 2015), please see

Kia kaha to our Tauranga whanau

On behalf of the Manaaki Taha Moana Research Team
Professor Murray Patterson, Science Leader for MTM, Massey University

To Help out in the Recovery Effort:
Information about the Oil Spill and Recovery effort can be found on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) website:, and we encourage you to check there for updates, or to volunteer to help with the clean up.

Oil sightings - 0800 645 774
Oiled wildlife - 0800 333 771

Wildlife Recovery:
Forest & Bird's Tauranga-based field officer, Al Fleming, is co-ordinating Forest and Bird’s response for wildlife affected by the oil spill. If you wish to volunteer, ring 0800 333 771 and provide their contact details and information on how you can help.
If you see any oiled wildlife (birds, seals etc) please call 0800 333 771 to report it. Please leave a detailed message if you don’t get through to somebody. If you have time, please stay with the oiled animal to ensure it is not disturbed or injured by dogs etc. If the animal moves please try and record where it goes. DO NOT touch or pick up the animal, as the oil is toxic.

General Clean-up:
Anyone wanting to help out with the clean-up effort can phone 0800 645 774, register online, or go to the Mt Maunganui, Omanu or Papamoa Surf Clubs.

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Tauranga moana iwi establish Rena Response Hub

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