Residents reject Rena 'package deal'

By Kiri Gillespie

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Motiti iwi representative Buddy Mikaere with the rusted remains of Rena's chimney stack from the ship's accommodation block. Photo / John Borren
Motiti iwi representative Buddy Mikaere with the rusted remains of Rena's chimney stack from the ship's accommodation block. Photo / John Borren

Rena's owner and insurer have discussed making major improvements to Motiti Island as part of its consultation over leaving the wreck on Astrolabe Reef.

The potential projects include an all-tide landing point for barges, a cellphone tower, all-weather one-lane road access to and from the airstrip and a 2.5m-wide, 10m-long piled wharf.

But residents have rejected the improvements, with one describing them as blackmail.

The cargo ship remains in pieces under the waterline since it grounded on October 5, 2011. Maritime New Zealand subsequently ordered full wreck removal.

Rena's owner and insurer, Daina Shipping Company and The Swedish Club respectively, are considering lodging a resource consent application to leave the wreck on the reef, while Motiti iwi Te Patuwai (also known as Ngai te Hapu) are fighting for full removal.

Any resource consent application needs to be lodged with the Environment Court by the end of November.

Iwi representative Buddy Mikaere announced this week that iwi lodged a claim with the Waitangi Tribunal against the Crown to establish why it had so far failed to enforce removal.

Mr Mikaere told the Bay of Plenty Times this followed meetings in which consultancy company Beca, working on behalf of Daina and The Swedish Club, tabled the island projects.

"The package deal they will look at doing involved improvement to the air strip out there and doing other things like installing some sort of wharf facility out there. But it was all contingent on it [Rena] being left," he said. "If the wreck has to be removed, I'm not so sure if those offers still stay on the table."

Mr Mikaere said iwi "firmly rejected" the improvements.

Documents the Bay of Plenty Times has obtained show the restoration projects were "to offset effects of the grounding of the MV Rena on the island community".

A copy of minutes from one meeting, held on July 24, has recorded Beca consultant Shad Rolleston as saying it was likely there would be no improvements if the vessel was removed.

Motiti Island resident Rangi Butler is recorded as replying that she felt like it was blackmail and it would divide residents.

Daina Shipping Company and The Swedish Club spokesman Hugo Shanahan provided a written response to Bay of Plenty Times questions. "If resource consent was to be granted, it may provide for some form of mitigation or restoration for the effects of the consent.

"It is usual for a prospective applicant to consult on what form that mitigation or restoration might take."

Mr Shanahan said the projects were proposed ideas subject to a resource consent being granted, "and would be intended to provide a form of long-term benefit to the island".

"Participation in the restoration discussions was without prejudice, meaning in no way does it undermine a group or individual's position to oppose any resource consent application.

"The owner and insurer are planning to return later this year, and will continue sharing information with the wider community in an open and upfront approach."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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