An appeal opposing the decision to leave the remains of the Rena on Astrolabe Reef will be heard today.

The appeal before the Environment Court has been lodged by Motiti Island's Ngai Te Hapu and Papamoa hapu Nga Potiki. Te Runanga O Ngati Whakaue ki Maketu and Te Arawa Takutai Moana Kaumatua Forum have joined Nga Potiki's appeal.

The hearing, set down to run for at least two weeks, will challenge the decision made a year ago by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council to leave the remains of the Rena, plus its equipment and cargo, on the reef.

The Rena wreck sits atop the Astrolabe Reef, near Motiti Island. Residents are fighting for its removal with an Environment Court hearing today. Photo/supplied/Andy Belch
The Rena wreck sits atop the Astrolabe Reef, near Motiti Island. Residents are fighting for its removal with an Environment Court hearing today. Photo/supplied/Andy Belch

An independent hearings panel appointed by the council spent six weeks in 2015 hearing evidence on the resource consent application by the Astrolabe Community Trust.

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The 38,000 tonne container ran into the reef in the middle of the night on October 5, 2011, leading to New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster as 300 tonnes of oil leaked into the Bay, killing marine life and washing up along the coastline.

One of the issues to be raised next week will be whether the Environment Court can order the removal of the wreck. The hearings panel, which included a retired Environment Court judge, found it did not have the power to order the removal.

Ngai Te Hapu spokesman Buddy Mikaere expected the first week of the hearing would be taken up hearing the evidence from the applicant after which the appellants would present their case.

He said Ngai Te Hapu was staying with its original stance that it wanted the whole of the wreck removed.

"It still presents an environmental danger and is culturally offensive to us."

Mr Mikaere said the appeal would also highlight the issue of the $24 million cap imposed by New Zealand law on how much ship owners must pay to clean up wrecks.

It still presents an environmental danger and is culturally offensive to us.

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While the Rena owner ended up putting in a lot more than $24m, he said the full cost to clean up wrecks should be on the people who caused the disasters, and not some of the costs falling on taxpayers.

"We hope our stance will trigger some reaction by the Government."

Earlier reports put the taxpayer portion of the clean-up at $40m, with the ship owner spending about $650m - making it the second-most expensive ship wreck in the world.

Mr Mikaere said he was not convinced by arguments that all the fuel was off the ship.

He said other hapu and iwi had settled with the applicant but for them to receive payment the ship owner's case now needed to succeed.

Three months after Rena's grounding, the container ship sits in two pieces on Astrolabe Reef. The future of the now sunken wreck remains unknown as the fight for its removal continues. Photo/file
Three months after Rena's grounding, the container ship sits in two pieces on Astrolabe Reef. The future of the now sunken wreck remains unknown as the fight for its removal continues. Photo/file