By Anton Steel.
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. The film Taking Back Our Beach, 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.
Our film about the Bay of Plenty community’s amazing response to Aotearoa’s largest environmental disaster, also screened earlier this year as part of the DocEdge festival. The reception to this celebration of community has been amazing with both tears and laughter.
Taking Back Our Beach is an important record of a major New Zealand event, exploring themes of people versus bureaucracy, the power when everyday heroes bind together, and the seeds of hope that can grow from a catastrophe. It is about a community’s response to a disaster, as seen through the eyes of that community.
Woven together from 33 interviews, there are many unfolding layers to this story, and this film offer closure to an event that affected over 8000 volunteers and countless more in the wider region. The Iwi rise to be leaders and a recent viewer noted that "The angst, grief and spirit from local tanga whenua were sensitively presented". Never seen before archival footage, amazing photos, re-enactments and computer-generated imagery, bring this communities stories to life, and paint a picture of “a great moment in human history” - Interviewee Brian Rogers.
Screening with Film Director attending - The film is screening at Mercury Bay Twin cCinemas this coming Sunday, November 19 at 4.00pm. The film’s director, Anthony Steel will be there for this audience Q & A following the screening.
The Trailer is here:
Caption: A scene from the film "Taking back our beach".