Embattled cargo ship Rena is going down – its stern is almost entirely submerged and debris and oil are escaping as it slides off the Astrolabe reef.
Maritime New Zealand has been monitoring the ship, which grounded off the Tauranga Coast in October, since around 8.30 am.
The ship has been going down since its position changed this morning following the rough weather and transport minister Gerry Brownlee is on his way to Tauranga.
Around 30 containers are reported to have washed ashore overnight. Workers will attempt to remove them from Waihi Beach and Matakana today, most likely via road.
People have been advised to look out for debris at beaches and in the surf.
While the front of the stern section – the larger part – is still above water, the accommodation section is now underwater. The bow remains on the reef.
There is nobody on board the ship.