Other Matters

I was covering the last world cup in New Zealand and this meant a week in Auckland for both semifinals and then the last two games. But those were on weekends, this meant I had a whole week in between with nothing to do, so I decided to head home for a short break at my Mum’s place in Tauranga.

For those who don’t recall or aren’t from New Zealand, the biggest news behind the world cup was an environmental disaster called The Rena. A cargo ship, run aground and leaking tonnes of oil onto a white sand beach resort. In my head this was my beach.

While the rest of the country’s papers were headlined everyday with even the dullest of rugby stories, in Tauranga every front page was The Rena. When I arrived these were the stats on the front page…

  • 1346 tonnes of oil remain on the ship.
  • 350 tonnes has been lost into the ocean
  • 5000 volunteers are registered to help
  • 500 volunteers were used over the weekend at Papamoa and Maketu
  • 618 tonnes of oily sand removed
  • 181 live birds are being treated after being covered with oil
  • 1250 birds were found dead
  • $3.5million has already been spent on clean up.

…not tackles and metres gained.

Rugby is sport, and sport is, at it’s heart, just a form of entertainment. A diversion. This was people’s livelihoods, from tourism to fishing, not to mention the massive environmental impact.

I took a walk in the sunshine along the main section of the beach that had just been reopened and saw thick black patties of oil everywhere. the water looked sparkling and clear, but I was told the dispersant used kept the oil just below the surface so it was still there just harder to see.

The signs were clear: the main Mount beach was open, but the water was closed. This did not mean the beach was empty. The sun was shining for a time and there were quite a few tourists around and kids playing everywhere. Some rather clever person had written huge letters in the sand spelling out “Clean Me”.

It was surreal. Black everywhere. From the flags of All Black supporters to oil strewn beaches.

Four years later, the wreck is still there. The company that owns it has petitioned to leave it there, paying a few million dollars to leave the rotting ship on the seabed. “Four more years” takes a completely different meaning.

Mount Beach

Shared by Hadyn

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