Ecology: The Rena oil spill - a year on

Photo / Getty
Photo / Getty

The 5th of October marked the one year anniversary of the Rena oil spill. It has also prompted WWF-New Zealand, in association with The Tindall Foundation, to earmark some $60,000 for conservation groups working in the Bay of Plenty area. Recipients include the Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society and Wildbase, Massey University.

The Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society has developed projects protecting dunes, wetlands and estuaries along with the creatures that live there. They are set to receive $18,000 over the next two years.

Wildbase, previously known as the Oiled Wildlife Response Unit, will be monitoring the breeding success and ongoing survival of oiled, rehabilitated and micro-chipped little blue penguins at Mauao (Mount Maunganui) and Moturiki (Leisure Island).

Some 350 tonnes of fuel spewed into the bay washing up on beaches and affecting bird life and kaimoana. Containers and debris littered the beach including milk powder, packets of stinking hamburger patties and polystyrene.

Clean up operations were extensive, inclusive and inspiring. More than 8000 volunteers were involved in the clean up including local communities, iwi and hap?.

Soon after the Rena grounded iwi and hapu members came together to form the Tauranga Moana Iwi Response Unit to help protect ancestral waters and kaimoana in the area. Maritime New Zealand trained iwi members to be leaders and assessors.

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell recognised the important role that the people and hap? of Tauranga Moana played responding to the Rena disaster. "In the months following the Rena, I saw communities pulling together from all corners of Tauranga Moana. Kotahitanga amongst coastal iwi and hap? leaders was evident from day one in the shared vision to work to return our moana to the state it was before the disaster, no matter how long it takes and no matter what cost".

Long term impacts are likely and research is being done by various organisations into the long term impacts of the oil on kaimoana, beaches, water quality and wildlife.

See some of photographer Alan Gibson's photos of the spill here.

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