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Response to the Rena grounding

Latest information

Independent Review of MNZ’s response to the grounding of the Rena

MNZ activity following the Rena grounding on 5 October 2011

Rena by the numbers

Rena timeline

Rena incident overview

Rena exclusion zone

More information


Rena Resource Consent | Decision

26 February 2016

Independent Commissioners have approved an application for the remains of the wreck of the Rena to remain on the Astrolabe Reef subject to comprehensive conditions. Maritime NZ has just received the 450 page decision and is now considering it.

Rena situation update

Resolve is managing the removal of the wreck. MNZ is continuing to oversee this process.

Media contact for owners, insurers, and salvors – Hugo Shanahan, +64 275 111 561

Rena Project

Information from the owners and salvors can be found here.


Independent Review of MNZ’s response to the grounding of the Rena

On 3 December 2013, Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee released the report of the Independent Review of Maritime New Zealand’s Response to the MV Rena Incident on 5 October 2011, carried out by former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Murdoch.

Minister Brownlee also announced $2.05m in funding for MNZ over three years to implement recommendations from the Review.

The Review report can be viewed below.

A report on the Rena Recovery Plan’s scientific monitoring programme, which has been assessing the environmental impacts of the grounding, has also been released today. It is available at

Salvage vessels work around the wreckage of Rena


MNZ activity following the Rena grounding on 5 October 2011:

  • MNZ coordinated a massive Tier 3, or national level, oil spill response, recovering around 1,000 tonnes of oily waste from Bay of Plenty beaches and treating hundreds of oiled birds. This operation was formally concluded in May 2012.
  • MNZ undertook a thorough investigation into the grounding, which led to the successful prosecution of the ship’s owner, Daina Shipping Company, and its Master and Second Officer. The company was fined $300,000 and the two officers sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment.
  • MNZ led complex negotiations regarding cost recovery with the ship’s owner and insurers, resulting in a comprehensive financial settlement. Daina Shipping Company paid $27.6 million to settle the claims of the Crown and public bodies.
  • MNZ has provided oversight, on behalf of the Crown, of the salvage operation, one of the most complex ever undertaken. The salvors successfully removed over 1,300 tonnes of heavy fuel oil from the vessel before recovering more than 1,000 containers from its decks. Work on removing the wreck from the reef is continuing – the bow section of the Rena is no longer visible above the water and work is underway to remove the ship’s accommodation block from the stern section.
  • A cross-agency environmental monitoring programme led by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council is examining the long-term impacts of the oil and all the clean-up efforts.


Rena by the numbers

  • At the height of the response, around 800 people were involved in the oil spill response team, including members of the incident command centre (ICC), and beach clean-up and wildlife response teams.
  • Around 500 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel were involved at the height of the response.
  • Around 8,000 volunteers joined the response, contributing more than 19,000 hours to the clean-up.
  • Around 150 local businesses and organisations provided support to the response.
  • Beach clean-up crews collected more than 1,000 tonnes of oily waste from the coastline.
  • A team of about 90 salvors from Svitzer and SMIT were actively engaged in the operation.
  • 1,733 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (HFO) on board Rena when it grounded, with around 350 tonnes estimated to have been lost overboard in the first week and further smaller amounts subsequently.
  • 1368 containers were listed on the original manifest. Salvors have recovered 1039, with 329 unrecovered, either trapped in inaccessible parts of the wreck or lost to the sea.
  • Oiled wildlife treatment and rehabilitation facility set up by The National Oiled Wildlife Response Team, led by Massey University, capable of housing 500 birds.
  • 407 birds in care at the facility at the peak of the response,
  • A total of 375 little blue penguins cleaned and released in a staged process from 22 November 2011.
  • 60 endangered New Zealand dotterels were pre-emptively caught to protect them from oil, and progressively released from 25 November 2011.
  • A total of 2030 dead birds collected, of which 1367 were oiled.


Rena timeline

5 October 2011

  • Rena hits Astrolabe Reef at around 2.20am.
  • Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) declares a Tier 3 emergency – the highest level of response to an oil spill.
  • MNZ simultaneously activates their MIRT (Maritime Incident Response Team) – a team of experts from MNZ – to monitor and respond to the situation around the clock.
  • MNZ’s national oil spill response team is in Tauranga by midday and begins collaboration with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and other agencies.
  • Wildlife experts from Massey University also head to Tauranga to support the response team and prepare contingency plans to manage risk to wildlife. MNZ also liaises with DoC.
  • An MNZ safety inspector and salvage advisors board Rena to begin vessel assessment.
  • MNZ contacts an international salvage expert to provide independent advice.

6 October 2011

  • The Director of MNZ, Catherine Taylor, issues the owner of the Rena with two notices under section 248 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994, declaring the Rena a hazardous ship and instructing those responsible for the ship to ensure that a reputable salvor be appointed promptly and to keep MNZ informed of all salvage operations.
  • Oil leak from the Rena confirmed.

9 October 2011

  • Pumping of oil from the Rena begins.

10 October 2011

  • Oil found for the first time on Mt Maunganui beach.

13 October 2011

  • Access to beaches between Mt Maunganui and Maketu Point restricted.

16 November 2011

  • Contractors Smit/Svitzer begin to remove containers from Rena.
  • Beach access restrictions lifted between Mount Maunganui and Maketu Estuary

22 November 2011

  • First release of rescued penguins.

8 January 2012

  • Rena breaks in two after heavy seas, both pieces remain on the reef.

10 January 2012

  • Stern section of the Rena sinks on the reef, part of it still visible above the water

4 April 2012

  • Stern section finally gives way to the weather resulting in the whole section being totally submerged on the reef

4 May 2012

  • Oil response reduced from national (Tier 3) response to a regional response (Tier 2).

25 May 2012

  • The Master and Second Officer are jailed for seven months following guilty pleas on charges of operating a vessel in a manner likely to cause danger, discharging a contaminant, and altering ship documents.

13 June 2012

  • Smit/Svitzer complete the removal of all recoverable oil and containers from the vessel, leaving 18 empty on the fore section.

25 July 2012

  • US salvors Resolve Salvage & Fire are appointed by the Rena’s owners and insurers to reduce the wreck’s bow on Astrolabe Reef to one metre below the low tide water mark.

15 August 2012

  • The first cut steel is removed from the bow section of the Rena following the appointment of contractors Resolve Salvage & Fire to reduce the bow to one metre below the low tide water mark (this was completed in August 2013)


Rena incident overview

Early in the morning of 5 October 2011, the cargo vessel Rena struck Astrolabe Reef 12 nautical miles off Tauranga and grounded.

The 21-year-old 236 metre Liberian-flagged cargo vessel was en route from Napier to Tauranga and travelling at around 21 knots when it struck. Its bow section was wedged on the reef, and its stern section was afloat. Two of its cargo holds flooded and several breaches were identified in the hull. There were 25 crew on board Rena at time of grounding.

Rena was carrying 1,368 containers and 1,733 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (HFO) on board at the time of grounding. An oil leak was detected on the night of night 5 October and a salvor, Svitzer, was appointed by the vessels owners and insurers the next day.

The salvage team began working around the clock in extremely dangerous conditions to secure the vessel and make preparations for the complex task of pumping the HFO off.

The salvors began removing the estimated 1,350 tonnes of oil in various tanks on Rena on 9 October, but were hampered by bad weather, equipment breakdown and hazardous and changeable conditions.

A storm overnight on 11 October resulted in the loss of an estimated 350 tonnes of oil from Rena, some of it washing up at various points along the Bay of Plenty coastline. Continuing bad weather the following night saw 86 containers lost overboard. A further 5–10 tonnes of oil was lost from the vessel overnight on 22–23 October.

Oil spill response personnel and volunteers, including large numbers of locals, worked to clean oiled beaches and recover debris from the containers. Wildlife experts from the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team treated oiled birds, including little blue penguins and pied shags, and pre-emptively caught 60 rare New Zealand dotterel to prevent them becoming oiled. (These birds were later re-released back into cleaned environments in a staged released programme.)

Over 1,300 tonnes of HFO was eventually recovered from Rena, with all of the accessible oil removed by 15 November. Containers lost overboard during bad weather were intercepted and recovered, where possible, along with dispersed container contents that washed up. Container removal operations from Rena began once all of the oil had been removed, with the first container lifted off on 16 November 2011. By 26 December, a total of 341 containers had been removed.

On 8 January 2012, Rena separated into two pieces and an estimated 200–300 of the approximately 830 remaining containers were lost overboard. The condition of the vessel had been gradually deteriorating during the time it was grounded on the reef, with more accelerated deterioration during stormy weather.

On Tuesday 10 January the stern section of Rena began to change significantly, with about 75 percent underwater by 10am. The stern section completely sank in early April, with the front of the section in around 23 metres of water and the rear in around 65 metres.

Salvage is continuing and is being managed by Resolve Fire and Salvage. Container recovery is being managed by Braemar Howells, and beach monitoring is being carried out by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

The Rena’s insurers The Swedish Club have indicated they are exploring an option to leave part of the Rena on Astrolabe Reef.  This would require an application under the Resource Management Act.


Rena exclusion zone

A two nautical mile exclusion zone for all vessels around the Rena site on Astrolabe Reef is still in effect.  This is administered by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC).



More information

More Rena by the numbers (first ten weeks of the response)

Condensed Renatimeline (first eight weeks of the response)

Wildlife response

Volunteer efforts

Regional responders

Incident daily timelines and briefings

5 – 31 October 2011: Weeks 1–4
1 – 30 November 2011: Weeks 5–9
1 December 2011 – 12 October 2012: Weeks 10–50

Ministerial correspondence
In response to requests from the media and other interested parties for information about the government’s response to the Rena grounding, the Ministry of Transport has released a document containing correspondence to and from the office of the Minister of Transport between 5 and 12 October 2011.

Other agencies

The Rena Project page containsthe latest information about the salvage of the wreck and containers.