In the early hours of 5 October 2011, a cargo vessel struck the Astrolabe Reef just off the pristine Bay of Plenty coastline. The grounding of the Rena created major public concern amongst New Zealanders, and commandeered national media headlines. This was seen as a significant environmental disaster.
With the world’s eyes already on New Zealand courtesy of the Rugby World Cup, and with thousands of international visitors in the country, there was also intense pressure on the authorities to safeguard New Zealand’s clean reputation internationally.
Maritime New Zealand, which is charged with managing the response to any oil spills that occur in New Zealand waters, turned to SenateSHJ for support. They were experiencing unprecedented demand for regular, accurate and up-front information – not just from the public, but from a number of other stakeholders, including Government.
We supported Maritime New Zealand in delivering clear, open information to all concerned, including staff, volunteers, officials, Government and the wider public. As part of this, we also developed and implemented an online and social media strategy to help the organisation manage the crisis.
The strategy involved providing up-to-date information to the public via Maritime New Zealand’s website, and via Twitter. This included information about the risks to public safety from floating cargo and oil, detailing where and when the cargo and oil were likely to come ashore. The online strategy also enabled direct and regular communication with the large number of people who volunteered to help clean the beaches.
Image courtesy of Maritime New Zealand.