Motiti tops compo for Rena

By Amy McGillivray

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Awanui Black
Awanui Black

More than half of the $1 million Rena Recovery Fund has been allocated to two groups with the rest split between a further 18.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company yesterday announced the allocation of $366,000 to the Motiti Island community because it was the most directly and significantly affected by the Rena grounding.

Tourism Bay of Plenty received the second-largest grant of $200,000 for an advertising campaign aimed at re-establishing the region as a tourist destination.

The fund's distribution committee considered various applications by Motiti Island's Maori community and decided to give a lump sum which could be distributed among itself with the help of the Te Moana a Toi iwi leaders group.

Awanui Black, chairman of the iwi leaders' group, told the Bay of Plenty Times he hoped to begin discussions with Motiti Island community groups in the next couple of weeks.

"What we're going to try and do is see whether or not there's a willingness on the island for people to work together - to see if there's a project they want to achieve."

The secretary of the island's marae committee, Mary Nuku, said the grant was what she had been hoping for.

"It won't cover everything, certainly not, but it will go a fair way towards it," she said.

The community had already spent about $60,000 doing up one of the island's two marae, particularly the toilets, which were used by large numbers of people during the Rena clean-up.

Ms Nuku said she would like to see the fund used to cover work already done and to upgrade the island's other marae.

Motiti Island kaumatua Graham Hoete said he was pleased the disaster's impact on the island was being recognised.

He said he would like to see the money used for a barge and a wharf for the island. The roads also needed doing up, the church house needed upgrading and an administration building was needed to free up the marae, he said.

Motiti Island landowner and resident Vernon Wills received a separate grant from the fund for the recovery of money related to the on-going clean-up.

Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager Rhys Arrowsmith said he was pleased tourism had been recognised as an important part of the economy which was damaged by the oil and debris which leaked from the grounded ship.

"The region was knocked around from a tourism perspective quite badly. I don't think we'll ever actually make that up.

"We have repair work to do to reinstate the reputation of the region as a highly desirable and reliable region to come to."

Two years after the Rena ran aground the industry was starting to recover, Mr Arrowsmith said. "The last few months have been up.

"Indications are the market is starting to recover nicely."

The money would be used to fund a 24-month advertising campaign which would be aimed at Auckland and the Waikato, the Bay of Plenty's dominant markets. He said the campaign, to begin next month, would use television, print, public relations and social media.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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