A team of experts form across New Zealand will join local science experts next week to begin a New Zealand first study into the impact of the containership MV Rena on the environment.
The study will provide detailed information on the success of clean-up techniques as well as the recovery of the things that local people value, like kaimoana and sandy beaches.
Soldiers clean Papamoa Beach when the oil first hit the beach in October.
Rena Recovery manager Catherine Taylor says the project is one of the biggest pieces of work within the Rena Recovery programme.
“We expect this research will produce some fascinating data on how several parts of the environment have recovered following the release of oil, containers and their contents.”
Waikato University Chair of Bay of Plenty Coastal Science Professor Chris Battershill will lead the research team known as Te MÄuri Moana, which includes academics and students from University of Waikato, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Te Whare WÄnanga o AwanuiÄrangi and the University of Canterbury.
“By working collaboratively we have been able to utilise the expertise of academics nationwide.
"We have been able to align our work to existing studies and have developed innovative approaches to achieve a comprehensive environmental monitoring programme,” says Chris.
Maori perspectives are also being integrated into the research with leadership and input from local iwi and Te Whare WÄnanga o AwanuiÄrangi.
“Since the grounding of the Rena we have been working very closely with iwi to capture traditional environmental knowledge (MÄtauranga MÄori) and ensure cultural values are respected. This has been beneficial and is a model we plan to continue with,” says Chris.
Catherine says this project is creating a new level of scientific research in the Bay of Plenty which has national relevance.
“A New Zealand coastline has never been through this level of pollution before so what we discover will be ground-breaking in understanding the resilience of New Zealand environments.”
Catherine says regular updates will be provided to inform the community of results from these studies.
“As soon as results become available we want the community to be the first to know,” she says.
Field work will begin next week, with a full write-up of most projects completed by early 2013.
Rena Recovery is responsible for monitoring the long-term environmental recovery from the 2011 grounding of the containership MV Rena in the Bay of Plenty.
If you want to keep up to date with Rena Recovery information visit www.renarecovery.org.nz and sign up to receive the Rena Recovery newsletter.