Iwi vs Crown - Rena inquiry begins

By Sandra Conchie

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Buddy Mikaere
Buddy Mikaere

The Crown's conduct since Rena's grounding have been put under the spotlight at special urgent Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal inquiry began in Tauranga today.

Ngai te Hapu spokesperson Buddy Mikaere told the Tribunal that the "bottom-line" for him and the other Motitii Island hapu was for the completion removal of the wreck and all the debris.

The 2-3 day inquiry under the Treaty of Waitangi Act has been called to hear submission and evidence in relation to the Crown's conduct and subsequent actions since Rena's grounding and the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.


"This is a sad day...It almost makes me weep that under the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles the Government has acted less than honorably, putting a foreign company and its interests ahead of tangata whenua and our interests," he said.
Iwi spokesman Buddy Mikaere


Mr Mikaere said the Government's signing a deed of agreement with Rena's owner and insurers which included a $10.4 million payout if the wreck remained on the reef without consulting with local Maori, was a "clear breach" of the Treaty of Waitangi.

"This is a sad day...It almost makes me weep that under the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles the Government has acted less than honorably, putting a foreign company and its interests ahead of tangata whenua and our interests," he said.

"The Crown says signing its secret deal was not a breach of the Treaty nor was the $10.4m an incentive payment, we believe is nonsense."

Mr Mikaere said the claimants called on the Tribunal to force the Government to enforce the removal notice issued in 2011.

Other claimants who will be making submissions during the 2-3 day inquiry will be Motiti-Rohe Moana Trust and the Mataatua District Maori Council.

Ngai te Hapu's lawyer Tom Bennion described the $10.4 m as a "success fee" and an incentive for the Government to facilitate Rena's owner and insurers end goal of leaving the wreck on the reef, as doing so it would save the company and insurers money.

The inquiry continues.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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