Book Now

Film poster

When disaster strikes, a community rises! In the face of New Zealand's largest pollution disaster, a community unites to save their treasured coast, but divisions grow with the ongoing fight to remove the wreckage and restore the environment. Taking Back Our Beach is a 90 minute feature film documentary that looks at the Bay of Plenty community’s response to the 2011 MV Rena grounding on Òtàiti / Astrolabe Reef and the subsequent oil and debris disaster, as seen through the eyes of that community.... When the MV Rena grounded on Ōtāiti (Astrolabe reef) on 5 October 2011 it wasn’t just the iconic New Zealand coastline and wildlife that were threatened by the ensuing black waves of oil and debris, but also a lifestyle treasured by its residents. The disaster reveals a deep connection to the environment in both local Māori and Pakeha (European descendants) alike. Floundering bureaucrats initially ignore the local advice and knowledge that could have largely avoided the disaster, and then are painfully slow to clean up the overwhelming mess, so the community steps in, taking matters into their own hands. A groundswell of volunteers goes out daily to help save wildlife and clean up the massive field of oil and debris strewn along the coast with the authorities recognising their invaluable work and quickly catching up with providing structure, equipment and ongoing organisation. The film captures the shock, anger and grief driven into the heart of the local community, but also the humour, purpose and overwhelming positivity when people join together with a common goal.