Rena: Govt accused of stalling

By Amy McGillivray

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Motiti Island hapu spokesman Buddy Mikaere believes the Government is trying to hide details of its settlement with the owner and insurer of the Rena. Photo / George Novak
Motiti Island hapu spokesman Buddy Mikaere believes the Government is trying to hide details of its settlement with the owner and insurer of the Rena. Photo / George Novak

A local iwi group has accused the Government of trying to stall an urgent Rena-related Waitangi Tribunal claim lodged a year ago.

Buddy Mikaere, who speaks on behalf of the Motiti Island hapu, said it seemed the Government was continually trying to delay the hearing to avoid having to reveal details of the confidential settlement agreement reached with the owner and insurer of the wrecked ship.

"We lodged a request for an urgent claim with the tribunal about a year ago. All through that time the Crown has been trying to delay the hearing. It's frustrating and it's costly. We've got no resources whatsoever. They've got the whole resource of the Government."

The hearing had been set to start in Tauranga on June 30 but the Government had raised questions over the suitability of the person selected to oversee the case, Mr Mikaere said.

"This latest argument by the Crown seems to us to be just another delaying tactic so it seems to us that they are trying to hide something," he said.

"What are they trying to hide? We, the public, should have the right to know."

The original purpose of the claim was to ask the Waitangi Tribunal to recommend that the Government enforce the removal notice that it served on the owners soon after the grounding of the ship in 2011, Mr Mikaere said.

The process would also bring the details of the agreement reached by the Government and the owner and insurer into the public arena, he said. "The agreement's become a point of issue as well because there was no consultation with us or anyone in the Bay before they entered into the agreement. For us it's a breach of the treaty. For everyone else it's a mystery."

Attorney-General and Minister of Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson said he could not comment on the issue while it was before the tribunal.

Last week it was revealed Prime Minister John Key had been instructed not to comment on issues involving the Rena but when asked by the Bay of Plenty Times said it was not his or the Government's call whether the wreck stayed or was removed.

This week a group of businesses, individuals and iwi groups reached settlements out of court on claims arising from the grounding. All 74 of the claims lodged were settled after two days of talks before commercial mediator Warren Sowerby. At stake was $11million deposited with the High Court by the Rena insurer to compensate Bay businesses hit by the disaster.

Rena-related Waitangi Tribunal hearing

*Public hearing
*8.30am on June 30
*Trinity Wharf

- Bay of Plenty Times

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