Category: Movies Movie- TAKING BACK OUR BEACH (7.30pm)


November 4, 2023

When disaster strikes a community arises! Taking Back Our Beach’ opens in New Zealand cinemas from October 5, 2023, which is also the 12th anniversary of the Rena grounding in 2011 on Otaiti/Astrolabe Reef.   

Selected for Doc Edge Festival 2023


This is a film about the response by a community to New Zealand’s largest environmental disaster, 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.

When 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, 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.

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.

In the aftermath of the clean-up, a further battle to remove the remains of the wreck ensues, with community unity threatened through the overpowering insurers and ship owners. The mauri (life force) of a national taonga (treasure) Ōtāiti is forever altered, however the power of a simple act of forgiveness shown to the ship’s scapegoated Filipino crew offers a beautiful way forward to growth and recovery.

From septuagenarian widowers chasing oiled penguins around their living rooms to a 6-metre long barbecue feeding volunteers for free, to youth impersonating army personnel in order to be allowed onto the beach to clean up oil, the documentary is made up of interviews with 35 local people (iwi, retirees, volunteers, wildlife leaders, marine experts, small business owners and community leaders).

A wealth of never-before-seen stock footage and amazing photos, augmented by re-enactments and CGI graphics brings these stories to life and paints a picture of “a great moment in human history” (the late Brian Rogers, Owner Sun Media / Interviewee).

PRODUCER: Rosalie Liddle Crawford

2023 | Documentary Exempt 87 mins | NZ |

Our theatre is inviting; cool in summer, cosy in winter. 2K Digital Projection with Dolby 5.1 Audio.

Our volunteers open the theatre doors and box office 30 minutes before the start time of each session.

Door sales if available from 30 minutes before the start of each session. If you want to check if seats are available phone 825 0023, from 30 minutes before the start of each session.

Due to our small capacity we recommend that reserves are made using the web reservation system as shown below.

There are no allocated seats. Arrive early to get the seat that's right for you from our eclectic collection of couches, reception and other chairs.

There is a café with juice, Bundaberg drinks, popcorn plus yummy food on sale. Most sessions are licensed with wine, cider and beer available.

Pay at the door by cash or EFTPOS.

The office is open Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 2pm for pre-purchase of tickets or to pay for reserves.

We accept online reserve requests up to about 1 pm on the day of screening provided the session isn't already full.

Online reserves are available for payment from 30 minutes before the start of a session to 15 minutes before the start.

From 15 minutes before the start they will be resold if the session is full.

Whare o Tuaiwa Rickard | Eva's Room at the Old School
5 Stewart St
Raglan, Coastal Waikato 3225
New Zealand

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Online ticket sales for this event are closed.