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Maritime NZ: Sea Change May 2022 newsletter

by Maritime NZ 8 Jun 2022 01:18 NZST 08 June 2022
Kayakers check out one of the many attractions and experiences available on the Coromandel and Hauraki Gulf coastline © Richard Gladwell /
Latest issue of SeaChange May 2022
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Issue 89

May 2022

SeaChange brings you news you can use to stay safe on the water, plus updates from Maritime NZ and the maritime sector. Remember to 'view in browser' to see all the images below. 

Putting safety first

Kia ora koutou

It's hard to believe winter is almost upon us I hope you're all keeping healthy, and if you've had COVID-19, you're recovering well. While New Zealand will remain operating under the orange traffic light setting for a while longer, the maritime border is set to open to passengers on 31 July. In the COVID-19 update below, you can find out more about the work we and other government agencies are doing to ensure the ports and wider sector are ready.

As many of you will know, port safety has been a key priority for us in recent months, following the tragic fatalities at the ports of Auckland and Lyttleton, as well as numerous other injuries. See my port safety update for a summary of the work underway to address risks at ports across the country.

Also, this month you can read about how we marked this year's International Women in Maritime Day, and our determination to do more to raise of the profile of women in the maritime sector.

Here's the full list of this month's articles: 

  • COVID-19 update
  • Port safety update
  • Attention divers: be safe, be seen
  • Meet our crew (Pete Dwen, Manager Investigations)
  • Marking the International Day for Women in Maritime
  • NZ Maritime Transport Association annual conference
  • Certification: working with the sector is starting to get results
  • What are the new fuel requirements for ships?
  • Search and rescue award for Maritime NZs Rescue Coordination Centre
  • Think about your responsibilities every time you go out
  • Spirit of Adventure
  • Celebrating the stars Matariki and International Day of the Seafarer

Ng mihi
Kirstie Hewlett
Director and Chief Executive

COVID-19 update

Following the announcement that the maritime border will be opening at 11:59pm, July 31 to all shipping, planning is underway to ensure ports and the wider sector are operationally ready. Cruises will be resuming, possibly as early as August, with recreational and specialist vessels also returning from 1 August.
Maritime NZ and the Ministry of Transport are leading this work, supported by a number of other border agencies including NZ Customs, Ministry for Primary Industries, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Engagement has commenced with maritime stakeholders, regional tourism organisations and Te Arawhiti, to support preparations for reopening.

Other important developments over May include: 
  • Vaccination Order changes workers who test positive for the first time may receive a temporary medical exemption from receiving the COVID-19 booster shot. Employers will apply on the worker's behalf and will verify that a positive test was recorded for the worker in question.
  • Changes to testing requirements  surveillance testing requirements for maritime border workers has been removed, meaning maritime border workers under the Required Testing Order no longer need to undertake regular testing. They should, however, still get tested if they're symptomatic.
  • Removal of isolation for sea arrivals ships no longer need to isolate for 7 days prior to arrival into New Zealand. Once a ship has been granted pratique and there are no known or suspected cases of COVID-19 on board, crew will be able to access shore leave on arrival and no longer be required to wear PPE aboard the ship.
Stay up to date with the latest information

Remember, you'll find regularly updated COVID-19 information on our website, including the Maritime Industry Update. If you have any questions, please contact us at 

Port safety update

Napier Port
In the previous issue of SeaChange, I mentioned the tragic deaths of port workers at Auckland and Lyttelton, and that the Minister of Transport had requested action be taken to address risks at ports across New Zealand. In this Issue, I'd like to give you an update about the work underway, which is:
  • Port Health and Safety Leadership Group advice
  • assessments at ports
  • statutory investigations.
I'd like to thank everyone involved port companies, stevedoring firms, unions for your cooperation and commitment to this important work.

Read full article from Kirstie Hewlett, Maritime NZ Director

Attention divers: be safe, be seen

We often remind skippers about doing the right thing and taking care to steer clear of divers. But if you're a diver, it's also important that you take responsibility for your own safety.
Accidents involving divers being struck by powered craft can result in serious injury or death. In fact, statistics show that injuries caused by propellers are almost always serious.
A few key things you can do to help keep yourself safe include:
  • display a dive flag, preferably at least 600 x 600mm (these can be purchased from most dive shops)  to let others know you're in or under the water
  • do everything you can to make yourself more visible to skippers use flags, buoys and other devices to make yourself more noticeable
  • keep an eye out for boat traffic at all times and keep out of their path
  • if diving from a boat, have a person on the boat looking out for you and other boat traffic at all times
  • stay within 200 metres of your dive flag  dive close to the boat, or have a surface float (with dive flag) that marks your position 
  • minimise the time you spend on the surface before diving if possible especially when out in the open and away from markers visible to other boats
  • as you ascend, look around so you can see the surface from all sides
  • use a safety sausage as you surface or when you're on the surface
  • surface near the shore or rock face/reef, rather than out in the open
  • if diving from a boat, surface up the anchor chain 
  • if you suspect theres boat traffic nearby when ascending, delay your ascent (if possible).
And last but not least, check the forecast and local conditions before you go, so you can return to the boat or shore as planned and avoid getting caught up in a current or bad weather.

Meet our crew

Pete Dwen, Manager Investigations
As a former seafarer, I can identify with the challenges of working at sea, and I have a genuine desire to help make things safer, says Investigations Manager, Pete Dwen.

Seafaring is in Pete's blood. Not only did he follow his father into the Navy, he and his father served on the same ship (though many years apart). A keen surfer, Pete is also committed to helping keep the marine environment as clean as possible. He joined our crew nearly five years ago and draws on his extensive experience to lead our Investigations team.


Marking the International Day for Women in Maritime 

From left: Yoyo Chu (President, WISTA New Zealand), Alexis Bannister (Maritime Security Advisor, Maritime NZ), Kirstie Hewlett (Director, Maritime NZ)
Figures show women make up just 1.2% of the global workforce, which was why the International Maritime Organization (IMO) last year launched May 18 as the worldwide Day for Women in Maritime. 

Maritime NZ recently joined with the Womens International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) to honour the day at a series of events around the country, and discuss the IMOs aims to raise the profile of women in maritime and promote the recruitment, retention and sustained employment of women in the maritime sector.

Speaking at the Wellington event, Maritime NZ Director, Kirstie Hewlett, said that Maritime NZ was a strong performer in lifting diversity. Women make up 49% of the regulators 284 employees, and half of its executive team of eight are women. Also, close to 40% of its frontline staff are female. But Kirstie says more work needs to be done. 

Diversity is important it brings difference in thought and skills that can help grow and evolve organisations and sectors, she says.

In a world of increasing technology, pandemics, economic, social, and geo-political challenges, the maritime sector needs diverse perspectives to be agile, adaptive and able to solve wicked problems.

We need more women to make it into middle management roles, more women on our frontline, and to think differently about how we recruit and showcase the breadth of the work we do.

NZ Maritime Transport Association annual conference

The NZ Maritime Transport Association (MTA) held its annual conference in the Banquet Hall at Parliament in Wellington earlier this month.

The Minister of Transport, the Hon Michael Wood (above), gave the opening address, after which Maritime NZs Deputy Director of Compliance Systems Delivery, Deb Despard (also above), provided an update on behalf of our Director.

Maritime NZ speakers covered such topics as our regulatory programme, MARPOL Annex VI, and 40-Series reform, as well as workforce and certification updates (see article below). A robust Q & A session followed and resulted in constructive feedback for us to take on board.

Maritime NZ would like to thank the MTA for what was an engaging and thought-provoking conference. It was also a valuable opportunity for us to get some face-to-face time with the industry, a welcome change after all the events that have been cancelled in the past couple of years.

For more information, email

Certification: working with the sector is starting to get results

Last week Maritime NZ hosted a certification workshop with operators and organisations from across the sector and the maritime schools.

It was part of the Te Korowai o Kaitiakitanga programme and an opportunity to discuss with the sector, What you've said, what good looks like, what we're doing and where we're heading.

The workshop followed on from Maritime NZ attending the Maritime Transport Association conference, with staff speaking about changes to certification processes.

You might be aware that Maritime NZ has a backlog of applications that has grown over time and is discussing with the sector how it intends to clear the backlog. The comments and questions we're getting from the sector are a most helpful guide to our planning. We want to make sure what we're doing works, and we're already starting to get positive feedback from the sector about the changes they're starting to see.

Maritime NZs Executive Team has made clearing the backlog a priority, and the actions being taken include:
  • a plan for how to clear the backlog and speed up work processes in future has been written and is being carried out
  • a coordinator has been appointed
  • additional, temporary certification staff have been recruited
  • Maritime NZ has made specialist staff from other teams available to provide technical advice and answers immediately when requested by Certification
  • reviewing and starting to decline old applications where seafarers and operators have not been replying or providing necessary information
  • communicating better with applicants
  • developing a training and professional development programme for Certification staff.
There is a lot more work to come and Maritime NZ is confident that by continuing as we have started the backlog will be cleared and new work practices will be in place. Also, the sector will better understand what they need to do to help decision-making about their own applications.

If you have questions or need information about an application you've made or plan to make, please email or

What are the new fuel requirements for ships?

New Zealand is now in the final stage of signing up to MARPOL Annex VI. Three months later the Marine Protection Rules Part 199 will enter into force.

Among other conditions, the rules will introduce fuel requirements to minimise the production of sulphur oxides. Sulphur oxides (SO) pollutants are the by-products of fuel combustion in an engine. The higher the level of sulphur in the fuel, the more SO are emitted in exhaust gases. Emitted SO react with water vapour creating sulphuric acid, a corrosive substance known to harm environments and marine species. It also poses a serious health risk to people.

These new fuel requirements include:
  • all ships must use low sulphur fuels such as petrol, diesel or other petroleum or non-petroleum distillate fuels (or acceptable alternatives)
  • all fuels used must meet specific fuel quality standards
  • all ships 400 GT or more must keep bunker delivery notes, and
  • international voyaging ships 400 GT or more must also keep fuel samples.
Using combustible fuels with a lower sulphur content will reduce the overall emissions of SO and particulate matter into the atmosphere. Ship operators have the option to use either low sulphur petroleum distillate fuels, diesel, blended residual fuels or other fuels that have low to zero sulphur content, such as liquefied natural gas or biofuels.

Alternatively, ship operators may seek Director Approval to use higher sulphur fuels so long as they're also using technologies that can remove pollutants from engine exhaust fumes before the fumes are released into the air. An example of these is exhaust gas cleaning systems.

Search and rescue award for Maritime NZs Rescue Coordination Centre

Rodney Bracefield, Justin Allan, Kevin Banaghan and Kate Weinberg from our Rescue Coordination Centre
Maritime NZ is congratulating its Rescue Coordination Centre for receiving an award for Operational Activity at the New Zealand Search and Rescue Awards.

The awards were presented earlier this month in Wellington.

This was awarded in partnership with Christchurch Alpine Cliff Rescue Team, GCH Aviation Greymouth Rescue Helicopter and the Christchurch Police SAR Squad  for the rescue of two climbers from Kaimatau/Mount Rolleston on 22-23 October 2021.

A huge congratulations to everyone involved. This award is just a small token of appreciation for all the invaluable work you do.

Think about your responsibilities every time you go out

A Maritime NZ prosecution is a timely reminder about how quickly a trip out on the water can turn disastrous.

Jae-Ho Huh was sentenced on 27 May in the Auckland District Court after earlier pleading guilty to one charge under the Maritime Transport Act. He was prosecuted after his 11-metre launch, with three people aboard, collided with the schooner SV Arcturus.

The collision occurred between Rangitoto Island and St Heliers in Auckland in March 2020. At the time, the launch was travelling under auto-pilot at between 15 and 20 knots (28-37 km/h).

Northern Compliance Manager Neil Rowarth says the incident was entirely avoidable.

"It doesnt matter whether you have been on the water for decades, or have just recently purchased a water craft. Knowing the rules and safety advice protects you, those you care about and others in and on the water," he says.


Spirit of Adventure

Kathy Perreau gets to work aboard the Spirit of New Zealand
When Maritime NZ's Senior Policy Advisor, Kathy Perreau, went on a voyage with the Spirit of Adventure Trust, she got a little more adventure than she bargained for...

Kathy, one of a team of people working on Maritime NZs reform of rules covering design and survey of commercial vessels, was putting that experience into practice as a volunteer aboard the Trusts Spirit of New Zealand ship during a recent sail in the Hauraki Gulf.

At work, Kathy is normally focused on the finer points of maritime rules, but on this trip she found herself involved in another key aspect of Maritime NZ work rescues.

I was on the ship, anchored off Elephant Cove. About to have a cup of tea, I heard the call to put on wet weather gear and ready myself

Five men were stranded on a rock after their boat sank near Gannet Island just off the Coromandel coast.  

The third mate, myself and another volunteer found ourselves speeding across to Gannet Island about one nautical mile away, says Kathy.

She helped get the rescued men in and out of the tender, shuffling gear between the craft and a launch that had come to help. It was clearly quite an ordeal. Their boat had sunk very quickly while some of them were diving.

Luckily though, with the help of Kathy and others, this was one adventure that had a good ending.

Celebrating the stars Matariki and International Day of the Seafarer

On Friday, 24 June, Aotearoa will celebrate Matariki, which signals the start of the Mori New Year, with a public holiday for the first time.

For many iwi, the appearance of the Matariki star cluster in the middle of winter signals the beginning of a new lunar year. It's an opportunity to reflect, plan for the future, and remember those who have left us.  

Coincidentally, the following day Saturday, 25 June  is International Day of the Seafarer, a time to recognise the invaluable contribution seafarers make to international trade and the world economy.

While it's a coincidence that they fall on the same weekend this year, the two celebrations aren't necessarily excusive. Traditionally, stars have also been of great significance to mariners. Back before navigational instruments were invented, mariners relied on the sun and stars to both tell the time and guide them safely to their destination. Celestial navigation skills have been highly sought after for centuries, and are still useful today, since satellite navigation technology is not always reliable.

So when you're celebrating Matariki weekend in June, remember to also spare a thought for the seafarers, both past and present.

Are there any particular topics or safety issues you'd like us to explore? We want to make sure our content is as relevant and interesting as possible, so if there's something you'd like to read about, we'd love to know.
Please email us at with 'SeaChange suggestions' as the subject line.

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