Man-Made Hazards

Major Transport Accident (Air, Road, Rail)


Aircraft Crash

There are two primary airports within the Bay of Plenty Region. Tauranga domestic and Rotorua international airport. The causes of air craft accidents can be due to human error, mechanical failure, system failure, or the effect of a natural hazard such as severe weather. 

The last major air crash within the Bay of Plenty was in July 1963 when an NAC Skyline DC3 crashed in the Kaimais killing all 23 onboard. 


Road or Rail Crash

Any major crash could be caused by any one of the same factors that contributes to aircraft crashes; with severe weather or human error being the two most likely causes of major crashes. A road or rail crash may be severe and test the abilities of emergency services; however it is unlikely for this kind of accident to need outside assistance. 

No recent major accidents have occurred within the Bay of Plenty, but an example of a major road or rail crash was Tangiwai Disaster. This disaster occurred on 24 December 1953 at the Tangiwai Rail Bridge near Waiouru, central North Island. A lahar from Mount Ruapehu flowed down the Whangaehu River and weakened the bridges support structure moments before the express passenger train was due to pass over. As the train passed over the bridge the bridge collapsed as it could no longer support the weight of the train resulting in the loss of several carriages into the raging river and 151 deaths.


Management Strategies 

There are various management mechanisms in place to address these hazards, most of which are part of the normal safe business operating procedures. To avoid any major road crashes you can drive to the conditions, reduce your speed, take rests if you feel tired, wear a seatbelt, and just drive wisely.









Maritime Accidents

In October 2011 the MV Rena container ship ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef spilling more than 350 tonnes of oil into the ocean, as well as losing numerous containers and debris overboard, making it New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster. 

The Port of Tauranga is New Zealand’s busiest and largest in terms of total cargo volumes with more than 1500 vessels calling at the Port for the year ending June 2013. The Port of Tauranga has many visits from major cruise ships with a total of 84 visiting the Port during the 2012/13 cruise ship season. 

In addition to a very busy port, a narrow entrance to the Tauranga Harbour and shallow bar crossings across the region, contributes to the potential of a significant maritime accident occurring in the region. 


Types of accidents 

There are 5 general maritime accident scenarios that could occur. 

  1. Grounding:  A large tanker, passenger, or freight vessel could possible ground from heavy swells; or engine, steering, or operating failures at Mt Maunganui or Matakana Island. This could result in pollution of the ocean from potential oil spills; serious damage to the hull of the vessel; and potentially block the harbour entrance for an extended period of time.

    Grounding can also occur in and around one of the many offshore reefs and islands in the coastal marine area.

  2. Collision: With the large number of vessel entering and exiting the harbour it is possible for a fishing vessel or pleasure craft to impede the safe passage of a larger vessel resulting in a collision. The main impacts of this maritime accident are the sinking of the small vessel, diesel spill, or potential fatalities.

  3. Contact Berthing: A heavy landing on a berth can create severe damage to the hull of the vessel and jetty structure, or potentially spill pollutants into the sea.

  4. Fire or Explosion: Fire on a small passenger ship or charter vessel requires rapid evacuation of the vessel for up to 60 passengers leading to people in the water and potential fatalities.

  5. Pollution: There are a number of different pollutants that can leak or be dumped at sea. These include: 

    1. Oil – Oil and diesel spills from ships are not uncommon. While many spills may be small it is the cumulative effect that can pose a risk to the marine environment. Oil contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon compounds (PAHs) which are harmful to both humans and marine organisms. Oil not only poses a risk to the marine organisms such as fish, sharks, or crabs, it also causes problems for marine birds such as penguins, and various species of petrel; and marine mammals such as dolphins, whales, and seals. The oil can lower the animal’s immune system, poison them, or prevent their protective feathers or fur from working, leading to hypothermia.

      The MV Rena lost 350 tonnes of oil when it ran aground the reef. Maritime NZ estimates more than 19,000 hours and 8,000 volunteers were needed to clean up the mess. The marine birds were also hard hit with more than 2000 dying and a further 400 in care to recover from the incident (Maritime NZ - Rena Response).

    2. Chemicals – Any toxic substance that pose a threat to the marine environment. This includes vegetable oil, raw materials from manufacturing and waste, by-products from industry, as well as any hazardous chemicals that may be transported as cargo.

    3. Sewage – Sewage from ships, fishing boats, and recreational boats not only poses a risk to the marine life, it is also a public health issue as it can leave swimmers or those who eat contaminated seafood very ill.

    4. Rubbish – No plastic or garbage that is harmful to the marine environment is allowed to be disposed of at sea at any time. Unfortunately large amounts of debris and rubbish still manage to find their way into the ocean from either shipping accidents (e.g. the Rena losing containers overboard); Tsunamis transporting debris out to sea; or illegal dumping of rubbish. Plastic material poses a high risk to the life of marine organisms.

      Removal of containers and debris from the Astrolabe Reef following the Rena accident is still ongoing nearly 3 years after the accident.


Management Options 

There are a range of things that the Port of Tauranga and Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) implement to mitigate the risks of a shipping accident.

 Vessels over 100 GRT have a pilotage service provided by the Port of Tauranga. 

Harbour monitoring is also undertaken to provide information on currents, tides, and weather conditions. 

Harbourmaster and pilot vessels patrol the harbour entrance and shipping lanes to make sure they are clear for incoming or out going vessels. 

Tugs are available to meet large vessels outside the harbour which are unable to manoeuvre the harbour entrance on their own.

The port contains Maritime oil spill response equipment. The BOPRC also has trained oil spill respondents and a Regional On Scene Commander, along with an oil spill response plan to be deployed in the event of a tier two spill.

There is also a number of legislations such as the Maritime Transport Safety Act 1994, the Port and Harbour Safety Code, and the Navigation Safety Bylaw to ensure safe boating occurs and to prevent shipping accidents from occurring.




Managing Coastal Areas Information 

Navigation Safety in the BOP Region   

Responding to spills and pollution   

The Rena Accident   

Environmental Recovery Monitoring  


Lifeline Utility Failure


With the development of technology, modern urban areas have become highly dependent upon the services provided by lifeline utilities and consequently communities are very vulnerable to their failure.


What is a lifeline utility? 

Lifeline utilities provide infrastructure services to the community; including water, wastewater, storm water, fuel supply, information technology and financial systems, transport (port, airport, highways, rail systems), energy (electrical or gas), and telecommunications (e.g. cell phone networks or radio).


Bay Of Plenty lifeline utility companies include: 

  • Rotorua, Tauranga, and Whakatāne Airports.

  • Port of Tauranga, along with other smaller ports around the region.

  • Electricity generators and network distributors.

  • Producers, suppliers, and distributors of manufactured or natural gas.

  • Suppliers and distributors of water.

  • Reticulation of waste water and sewage.

  • Telecommunications network providers – e.g. Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees.

  • Road network providers.

  • Rail network and service providers. 


What is a lifeline utility failure?

Failure of one of these systems can cause widespread disruption throughout the region and lead to severe economic effects. Failures can lead to overload and disruption to areas and can be caused accidentally or deliberately.

Failure can be due to an internal system failure; a natural hazard (e.g. volcanism, earthquake, tsunami, flooding, severe winds, etc); poor maintenance, or criminal acts.

The co-ordination of lifeline utility failures is completed through a co-ordinator at the civil defence group level. 

Lifeline utility failures are not just about getting the lifeline up and running again so people can use it, it is about the ability to get the community back to a sense of normality.  

There is also a lot of interdependency between various lifeline utilities. If one goes out it can affect the ability of others to be repaired. For example if the road is damaged or destroyed it can prevent vehicles from reaching telecommunications or power supplies that need fixing.


Consequences of a lifeline utility failure 

The consequences of a lifeline utility failure are variable depending on which lifeline utility fails. Some of the consequences of lifeline utility failures are listed below. 


  1. Illness and disease with breakdown in water, wastewater, or heating systems.

  2. Fatalities possibly from fire, explosions, or inhalation of gas

  3. Issues with customers who are dependent on electrical supplies 


  1. Business and industry disruption

  2. Major losses through tourism industry

  3. Loss of employment

  4. Loss of income for industries

  5. Large cost to repair damaged infrastructure

  6. Forced vacation of businesses


  1. Sanitation and biological effects

  2. Evacuations

  3. Inconvenience to families

  4. Loss of communication

  5. Loss of confidence in infrastructure

  6. Social disorder 


  1. Urban, coastal, or marine pollution from failing wastewater, storm water, or fuel systems


Examples in the BOP of lifeline utility failures 

There have been no recent major lifeline utility failures; however there have been numerous small disruptions throughout the region.  

Lifeline utility failures can occur at a local or regional level, which will only affect local or regional areas. Examples at a local or regional level include:

  • The disruption to roading networks during heavy rainfall and flooding events such as during the 2005 Matatā storms.

  • The cutting of power to various areas following severe wind events. 

They can also occur at a national level. This means that a lifeline utility failure may not occur in the Bay of Plenty region but can still cause issues within our region. An example of this is the 2011 Māui gas pipeline leak in Taranaki. Although the failure did not occur within the Bay of Plenty it affected  businesses within the region such as the hospitals and the Fonterra plant at Edgecumbe.


There is always the potential for a lifeline utility failure in your area!









Water, storm water, and wastewater issues –your local council deals with this









Your local council also deals with roading issues within your area.















Dam Failure


There are several dams located within the Bay of Plenty region. The failure of one of these dams will result the sudden and unexpected release of a large volume of water and/or sediment into a waterway or on to land.


 What causes dam failure?

A dam failure can result from natural phenomenon such as heavy rain or an earthquake; or be due to mechanical issues such as poor design, construction, or operation. Dam failure can also result from age (i.e. if it is old) as well.

Dam failure can lead to further dam failure (of other dams downstream); flooding, erosion; the destruction of lifeline utilities and infrastructure (such as bridges, roads, etc); economic loss due to agriculture crops, horticulture crops, or livestock destruction; and even possibly death. If the dam is used for water supplies, the failure can result in cut supplies for surrounding townships.


Major Dams

Major Dams in the Bay of Plenty region

  1. Kaimai Power Scheme on Wairoa River Catchment

  2. Matahina Dam on the Rangitāiki River

  3. Aniwhenua Dam on the Rangitāiki River (Upstream of the Matahina Dam).

  4. Wheao and Flaxy Power Scheme on the Rangitāiki River.


 Major Dam Failures

There have been a couple of major dam failures within the Bay of Plenty region.

  1. Ruahihi Canal

    In 1981, shortly after its construction it failed resulting in many small and one main massive slope failures. This created a large amount of debris which travelled down the valley, across SH29, and into the Wairoa River. Luckily there were no injuries from this event.

  2. Whaeo Power Station

    Also in 1981 millions of cubic meters of water escaped from the headrace of the Whaeo Power Station on the Rangitāiki River. Large amounts of debris also washed out of the power station, and combined with the water they dislodged the power station from its foundations. It was later realised that part of the failure was caused by large caverns under the headrace, which were subsequently filled with grout following the power stations reinstatement.

  3. Matahina Dam

    Although no failure has yet occurred at the Matahina Dam it was badly damaged during the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake. It has since been repaired, and managed to withstand the impacts of the July floods in 2004.

  4. Small dams formed from natural processes (and possibly physical restrictions), along with a small debris dam have failed resulting in areas being inundated with water and sediment. Those which have occurred so far have not resulted in any injuries or deaths.


Management Options

Regular dam safety inspections and dam safety reviews are conducted to observe dam conditions and determine whether the dam is safe or not, and if not how to improve it to make it safe. Emergency action plans are also produced to assess procedures to deal with emergencies such as dam failure, which include inundation maps of water levels and times if a failure was to occur.



Dam Safety Scheme

Matahina Power Scheme

Kaimai Power Scheme

Whaeo and Flaxy Power Scheme




Civil Unrest/Terrorism

Most acts of terrorism are designed for maximum effect. New Zealand is an unlikely target, but disaffected groups may copy terrorist methods to attract attention to their cause. The threat of terrorist activities will continue to be evaluated and internationally the profile of terrorist activities is growing. There is no evidence to suggest that the exposure of people in the Bay of Plenty to terrorism will increase or decrease. A terrorist attack against New Zealand is more likely to happen in Wellington, the seat of parliamentary power.

All terrorism and vandalism threats will be handled by the New Zealand Police.