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  • This Connected article looks at the aftermath of the 2011 environmental disaster caused when the MV Rena struck Astrolabe Reef, off the Tauranga coast. Since then, the clean-up operation has seen lots of debris removed from the wreck – but large parts of the Rena still remain on the ocean floor.

    Rights: Crown copyright 2016

    Connected article: What Now for the Rena?

    An article in the 2016 level 4 Connected journal ‘Getting the Message’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

    Photograph by Darryl Torckler

    The Rena wreck is now managed by the Astrolabe Community Trust, which took over responsibility for the future of the wreck after the initial clean up. The panel thought it best to leave the remains of the wreck on the reef, but before the decision could be finalised, studies and consultations with many people and organisations were undertaken. Explore the many factors that were considered when making the decision on the future of the Rena wreck?

    Check your school library for the article from the 2016 level 4 Connected journal ‘Getting the Message’ or download it as a Google slide presentation from Tāhūrangi or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    Rights: Crown 2016

    2016 Connected level 4: Getting the Message

    The cover of the 2016 level 4 Connected journal ‘Getting the message’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles Presenting scientific data, Driving us into the future, Can you hear that? and What now for the Rena?

    Photo of wreck © Daryll Torckler

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi (Word and PDF files available). It includes two learning activities – Salvage operations and Creating a presentation – to explore the science. These can be used with your students to explore and develop understandings of the science capability ‘interpret representations’. There are also two learning activities with links to social studies – Seeking a balance and Weighing it up – use these to help develop understandings about perspectives, values and decision making with your students.

    Rights: Video footage courtesy of the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and The University of Waikato.

    Rapid response to the Rena

    Immediately following the grounding of the Rena on the Astrolabe Reef a marine response team was formed.

    In 2021 it was announced that the Astrolabe Reef will become part of the Mōtītī Protection Area, this means that the taking of any animal or plant will be prohibited. The goal is to combat the loss of biodiversity caused by previous overfishing.

    Related content

    Explore the range of content the Science Learning Hub has on the Rena disaster – start with this introduction article. There are links to articles looking at some of the research undertaken around the disaster, some of the underpinning science concepts, student activities and more.

    The article Restoring mauri after the Rena is based around the The Rena disaster TV episode from Project Mātauranga. Use this to explore what mauri is and the application of Dr Morgan’s mauri model in assessing the Rena disaster.

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Activity idea

    In this activity, Responding to Rena students consider short-term and long-term responses to an environmental disaster such as the Rena grounding and oil spill.

    Useful links

    For more on the Rena disaster and the response by local iwi, see After the spill, Connected 2013, Level 4.

    Report from the New Zealand Coastal Society looking back on New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster after three years. This report covers topics ranging from community involvement, wildlife response and oil spill modelling, it includes a discussion on the legal implications of the incident.

    The final report on the Rena grounding by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, released on 18 December 2014.

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 24 November 2020, Updated 3 March 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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