A group opposed to the decision to leave the remains of the Rena on Astrolabe Reef has been labelled "small and disaffected".
This description of Ngai Te Hapu emerged during the second day of submissions today on the appeal before the Environment Court.
Matthew Casey QC, the lawyer acting for the Astrolabe Community Trust, said that Ngati Te Hapu Inc represented a small and disaffected group of Te Patuwai - the hapu that occupied land at the northern end of Motiti Island.
He said it was a society incorporated well after the Rena grounding and after the owner of the Rena had announced its intention to seek resource consent to abandon the remains of the Rena on the reef.
"Its members include a resident of Motiti Island and her extended family. It has taken as its name the eponymous ancestor of Te Patuwai."
Te Patuwai is a sub-tribe of Ngati Awa Iwi. Its island holdings included houses, two marae and a church.
Mr Casey said Te Patuwai Tribal, Te Runanga O Ngati Awa, MRMT and the Korowai represented the vast majority and supported the trust's proposal.
His description of Ngati Te Hapu compared to the larger groups and how the appellants could not assert values and effects that did not apply to them, prompted Alternate Environment Judge Caren Fox to say: "It is more nuanced than that."
The Astrolabe Community Trust was established to apply for resource consent to leave the remains of the wreck on the reef.
Consent was granted a year ago by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, sparking seven appeals of which two remained following mediation in May last year. They were Motiti Island's Ngai Te Hapu and Papamoa's Nga Potiki a Tamapahore Trust.
Te Runanga O Ngati Whakaue ki Maketu and Te Arawa Takutai Moana Kaumatua Forum have joined Nga Potiki's appeal.
Mr Casey said the mediation agreement resolved a number of issues. Unresolved issues included whether the Court had jurisdiction to require removal of part of the wreck.
In other submissions by Mr Casey yesterday, he said the 14 briefs of evidence exchanged by Ngati Whakaue dealt almost exclusively with complaints by Ngati Whakaue and alleged adverse effects on its witnesses.
"These go beyond the jurisdiction of the Court on these appeals and should be rejected."
Mr Casey also said the Crown had recently rejected an application by Nga Potiki for recognition of customary marine title to waters around Motiti, including Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef).
His submission occupied the whole of today's hearing.
Ngai Te Hapu's grounds for appeal include
- The court could not require large parts of the wreck to be removed.
- Leaving the remains of the Rena did not constitute sustainable management.
- Did not protect Ngai Te Hapu's "rangatiritanga" of the reef
- Uncertainty about the boundaries of the application and its effects
- Inadequate consideration of alternatives.