Rena beads back on beaches

Plastic beads are being scraped off Papamoa Beach today after they blew ashore in the weekend’s stormy weather.

The beads have come from a container load off the Rena wreck at Astrolabe Reef, discovered by salvors shortly before they were forced to abandon operations at the reef due to the weather.

Plastic beads discovered in a container on the Rena have washed up along beaches following the weekend’s storm. Photos: Bruce Barnard.

Plastic beads along Papamoa Beach today.

“Having recently removed a large amount of cargo and container wreckage from cargo Hold 4, Resolve located one of the two containers of beads at the bottom of that hold, at a depth of approximately 30metres,” says Rena Project spokesperson, Hugo Shanahan.

An initial assessment found the container was partially damaged with its cargo of plastic beads still largely intact.

 Before salvors could begin removing the beads, the situation had to be contained ahead of the forecast severe weather. The container was covered with tarpaulins, held down by large magnets and 12tonnes of sandbags, and overlaid with protective steel plates, says Hugo.

There were swells of up to four metres at Astrolabe Reef at the weekend, which have apparently dislodged the coverings and released the beads.

“The release of beads is frustrating for all those affected,” says Hugo.

“The immediate focus now is to locate and recover lost beads. Resolve’s divers will be back in the water to assess the container of beads as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

The shoreline debris recovery operation is concentrating on locating and recovering beads as they wash ashore, using specialist beach cleaning equipment and local labour teams. Flight surveys of the coastline are also being used to help in the recovery effort.

Sightings of beads have so far been confirmed between Mount Maunganui and Papamoa beaches. Members of the public can report the location of any beads by phoning 0800 333 771.

The plastic beads measure 2.5millimetres in diameter. They do not represent any significant risk to public health and safety or to wildlife, but are a visual nuisance and can be difficult to remove from beaches, says Hugo.


And so the saga of the Rena lives on

Posted on 13-08-2018 13:27 | By local yokel

The overseas owners bought their way out of the destruction and mess they left behind and now the locals and the wildlife that are ingesting all these plastic balls are still paying for it all while the owners only paid a small amount for all the damage that they caused and the Captain virtually got away scot free.

Full Removal

Posted on 22-04-2013 16:26 | By NZ Sailor

This is one of the many reasons there should be a full removal of vessel and all its contents.This will keep happening for many years to come.EG 50years

Thanks for nothing

Posted on 22-04-2013 15:15 | By Nevan

Really after 18 months they just located the beads a day before rough weather. Also only 4 meter swells. That’s not much. How much worse will it be when we get a proper swell closer to 10 meters? Also fish and turtles eat these beads in the water as they look like eggs so saying they are not harmful to wildlife is not exactly true.


Posted on 22-04-2013 12:19 | By ammer01

To say they do not pose a significant risk to wildlife, is insulting the intelligence of those reading those words! If wildlife ingest the plastic spheres and die, thats not significant? The plastics can also leech into the body of those ingesting them or even give a sense of a full stomach and die of starvation (see united nations environment programme report at: These plastic balls have been on Matakana beach for 2 years but apparently the beach is clean (take note Regional Council).

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