The battle over the Rena wreck has gone online.
A local Facebook page has been set up to oppose plans to leave the Rena wreck on Astrolabe reef. Restore Our Reef - Remove the Rena was set up last month but only made public this week. It gained momentum after opposition leader David Cunliffe announced he would remove the Rena if voted into government.
The page had 350 Facebook "likes" last night.
Page founder and Moana radio host Pat Spellman said the page was set up by a group of locals who were concerned at the prospect of the wreck remaining on the reef.
"It's a way for people to get in touch with others who can assist them with Rena issues and keep in touch with everything Rena related," he said.
"The Rena needs to go regardless of the cost. Based purely on principal, it needs to go."
The Rena ran aground on Astrolabe Reef on October 5, 2011, while sailing, in clear weather, from Napier to Tauranga. It had been suggested removing the entire wreck could take a decade.
The owners, who had spent $350 million since the Rena grounded, argued full removal would be highly dangerous. Mr Spellman said Mr Cunliffe's announcement was a step in the right direction.
Mr Spellman said he agreed to be the frontman of the page as he was "already in the public area, thick-skinned and thought there could be a lot of opposition to it".
Locals were concerned with the potential future risks associated with the wreck, he said.
"These are the things I am hearing on a grass-root level."
Mr Spellman said the Facebook page was the first of many platforms set to counter the application to leave the Rena on the reef by its owners.
"A petition is going to be launched and local radio station Moana has pledged to act as a community voice for the campaign."
The Mount Maunganui Underwater Club had been advocating for the wreck to stay put as a dive attraction.
Vice-president Gail Bingham said the club had been working with the owners to keep it where it was.
"The idea of removing the wreck is absolutely ridiculous," she said. "It's got the potential to bring divers to the Bay. Removing the wreck would cause more damage, the reef will recover if it's left there but if removed it will damage it more and put the salvors' lives at risk."