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Oil is washing up onshore and metal containers are bobbing in the sea on the island Kathleen Hoete once called her paradise.
The Motiti Island resident of 15 years has been left devastated by the stranding of the cargo ship Rena on Astrolabe Reef, just seven kilometres from her home.
She woke up this morning to find four containers spilled from the vessel floating off the oil-covered beaches near her house.
The overpowering smell of oil in the air carried for "miles" across the island, she said.
"This was supposed to be our paradise. It's not any more.
"Fifteen years we've been here. This is the worst thing I've ever seen. I hope it will be the last time I have to see something like this."
Mrs Hoete moved to Motiti Island with her husband, who was from the area, to retire.
Her first reaction when she found out the stranded Rena was leaking oil last week was to cry.
"I just though there goes our cupboard. There goes our seafood."
The situation has only become more bleak since - with an estimated 300 tonnes of oil leaking into the sea on Tuesday morning and about 70 containers spilling off the listing vessel overnight.
She is now most worried about the contents of the containers bobbing in the sea off the coast.
"I just think, what if they have something toxic in them? I just want to know. We need to know."
None of the 11 containers on the Rena that contain toxic chemicals have spilled off yet, authorities say.
However, a Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman said more containers were expected to fall off the vessel today as it continues to be battered by high winds and rough seas.
Port of Tauranga officials said all the fallen containers had gone to the south east of the Rena, in the direction of Motiti Island.