New threat to wildlife, fresh oil reaches Papamoa

10:00 pm on 13 January 2012

Wildlife is under a new threat from the wrecked ship Rena after contents of a container carrying 17 tonnes of plastic beads spilled into the ocean and washed up at Matakana Island.

Debris, oil and dead marine life are also continuing to reach the shores of Motiti Island and at Papamoa East, as heavy swells continue to batter the ship off the coast of Tauranga.


The Rena grounded on Astrolabe Reef on 5 October last year. It finally broke in two after severe weather last weekend and on Tuesday about three-quarters of the stern slipped below water, but has not moved any further since.

Maritime New Zealand said the container held 660 bags of small translucent plastic beads and most of the cargo is still inside.

However, some of the beads have been found on the shore at Matakana Island and environmental clean-up company Braemar Howells is trying to recover them.


Maritime New Zealand's on-scene commander Rob Service says birds would need to take in a lot of the beads to be severely affected.

The Te Moana A Toi Iwi forum represents the interests of all Maori in Bay of Plenty. Spokesperson Willie Te Aho says oil and debris from the wreck and dead marine life have been coming ashore at Motiti Island.

Mr Te Aho says though Motiti is not as badly affected as Matakana Island, the mess washed up from the ship's decks is worrying for residents.

Meanwhile, Maritime New Zealand is warning boaties to watch out for hazardous debris lurking below the water's surface.

It says boaties should stay off the water in the area of the Rena if possible, or at least travel at a safe speed and be aware at all times of the potential danger.

Fresh oil at Papamoa East

Oil spill response teams have identified fresh oil at Papamoa East, recording small spots stretching over 2km of coastline on Friday evening.

Shoreline teams will return there on Saturday to assess how best to clean up the oil.

Another attempt to recover containers from the ship was again thwarted when the crane barge Smit Borneo was unable to leave the Port of Tauranga on Friday evening due to bad weather and high seas.

Maritime New Zealand says conditions around the Rena are very rough, with maximum wave heights of about five metres.

Officials will try to send the barge out on Saturday.

Salvage company Svitzer has been developing plans with naval architects to get the containers off the ship's bow, which remains firmly wedged on the reef.