by Catherine Delahunty
Midday at Papamoa Beach Surf Club and the free sausage sizzle is competing with the donated cakes stall. A motley group of citizens is broken up into ten people clusters and decked out in the white overalls and blue rubber gloves. With spades and rakes we are packed off down the beach to start cleaning up the beads and clumps of oil along the tide lines. It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon and the “Rena” can be seen as a blur on the horizon.
I am a member of Nigel’s team, cleaning sand with Tanja from Papamoa and Marcella who was born in Czech Republic. We three are all good talkers but we get through a fair pile of sand as well. The beach crew on quad bikes are always checking on us and dropping food, drink, more gloves and more bags. Pretty soon we find out where Tanja met Brent and how Marcella might be off to Darfur soon. If we get too random a staunch wahine from our group suggesta we work in a line. Even though it’s a sad and bizarre activity we are pretty happy to be working for a common cause. There is a definite positive vibration because everyone loves this beach and there are at least 1500 people showing what that love means.
“Can they please just get some more oil off that ship?” someone speaks our mind and we keep digging, raking and scraping up oil.
After a few hours I head off to the media briefing which tells us that progress has been made but still no oil is pumping.
A long drive home but a good day. There is something about great about people acting to heal the environment in a deeply practical way. I felt proud to be a member of Nigel’s team.