Iwi firm on Rena removal

DECAYING: The rusting wreck of the Rena.
DECAYING: The rusting wreck of the Rena.

Moves by the owners of wrecked cargo ship Rena to get consent to leave some of the wreck behind are strongly opposed by local Maori.

Rena owner Daina Shipping and insurer The Swedish Club have said they will apply for resource consent to leave the remnants of the ship on Astrolabe Reef, off the coast of Tauranga.

Their senior representatives are to meet iwi and community spokespeople this week. After that, it was expected consent applications would be made sometime between the end of March and May, Swedish Club spokesman Captain John Owen said.

The date was uncertain because of delays in removing the accommodation block from the wreck.

Salvors had been ready to do the work since December but had not even had one of the two weather windows needed to carry out the job safely.

Ngai Te Hapu spokesman Buddy Mikaere said all of the wreck needed to be removed, and this was "simply not negotiable".

Offers by the owners and insurers to improve infrastructure on Motiti Island - the occupied area closest to the Rena wreck - would not cause hapu members to change their minds.

"Our hapu, acting on behalf of other iwi groups and indeed all right-thinking New Zealanders, cannot countenance corporate shipping companies coming to our part of the world and doing this to us," Mikaere said.

The moves to seek consent to avoid removing all the wreck were an attempt to avoid spending money.

The owners and insurers had tried to put a "guilt trip" on hapu about the safety of salvors, but the work could be done safely, the salvors just could not go as fast as they might like to.

Owen said that once the work was completed more than $350 million would have been spent on the operation since the Rena ran aground in October 2011.

Fairfax Media