National exercise protecting New Zealand coastline

Maritime New Zealand will lead a national maritime emergency exercise from May 9-11 that will involve a “collision” between two ships off the coast of Taranaki.

The exercise is designed to help New Zealand to better prepare for what may happen in a real event.

Whakautu II Exercise Director, Nigel Clifford, said the exercise will build on the lessons learnt from the Rena grounding in the Bay of Plenty in 2011. It is the second large-scale, national exercise that Maritime NZ has run.

“We want to be well prepared to mount an efficient and effective response in the event of another major maritime incident. Whakautu II will test our oil and non-oil response strategies and plans and help us to make further improvements,” he said.

Maritime NZ will establish combined national, regional and local across-government response teams in Wellington and New Plymouth to respond to the “collision” and minimise its impact. This will include dealing with issues such as public information, salvage of the vessel, oil spill clean-up, container hazards and investigation to determine liability and accountability.

The exercise will involve about 150 people and 30 organisations, including Taranaki Regional Council as Maritime NZ’s key regional response partner.

Mr Clifford said Maritime NZ has invited Iwi, community groups, businesses and District Councils to take part in the exercise.

“It is an important opportunity for us to engage with community leaders about how we would respond to this type of emergency and for them to ask questions and provide information and guidance,” Mr Clifford said.