13 Oct 2011

Maritime NZ admits failure to keep people informed

8:00 am on 13 October 2011

Maritime New Zealand director Catherine Taylor has told a public meeting in Maketu that a better job could have been done to keep people informed about the Rena oil spill.

Locals in the small settlement on the Bay of Plenty coast say they want to know when their section of coastline will be cleared of oil.

People who have been cleaning oil from the shore themselves say they have no idea when an official clean-up is going to begin or what will happen next.

Addressing about 200 people at the meeting on Wednesday night, Ms Taylor conceded that a better job could have been done to let people know what is going on.

"Your comments are absolutely valid and your criticism is appropriate," she said, "and I accept it.

"And one of the reasons that we are increasing the community liaison teams and the community teams is to bring together the resources that are available to us locally."

Ms Taylor said an official cleanup team will assess the Maketu area on Thursday.

Listen to report from Maketu meeting on Morning Report

Family say they have to move out

Kylie and Anton Steel, who live at Pukehina Beach across the estuary from Maketu, says the pollution from the spill is so bad they will have to move out.

Mrs Steel says that when she woke up on Thursday the beach, just metres from their home, smelled like a diesel pit and globules of oil covered the shore.

She says wind and current charts suggest the spill will head right for the community, but there has been no communication from the authorities.

Mrs Steel says she and her husband and their 11-month-old son will leave home on Thursday for an indefinite period, and the contamination may mean there is no point returning.