It is "inconsistent" to claim the mauri of Astrolabe Reef/Otaiti is harmed by the Rena when iwi have accepted intentional sinkings near significant sites, says a Te Arawa witness.

Piatarihi Bennett of Kaupapa Taiao o Ngati Makino dived on the reef last Wednesday. She emphasised it was the reef, not the wreck, she dived for as Ngati Makino's focus was on the state of its taonga.

"I went on the dive with the intent to critically assess for myself how the mauri of the reef was coping."

Ms Bennett said her first thought on getting underwater was disappointment.


"In all of the time that we had been working on these take [concerns] about Otaiti, it seems that we had lost sight of the ability of Tangaroa [god of the sea] to repair and recover naturally."

Ms Bennett said she did not support anything foreign in the moana but after her dive last week, she was happy with the way the reef was recovering.

This had made her question the evidence of those who said mauri could not exist where a ship was.

She raised the intentional sinking of the Seafire in 2008 off the shore of Whakatane with the acceptance of local iwi Ngati Awa.

Ms Bennett also spoke of the mutually respectful relationship the tribe had built with Rena's owners, resulting in the hapu having its wishes and concerns heard.

At a meeting between the hapu and owner's representative Konstantinos Zacharatos, Ms Bennett said the apology he had delivered was the first time in her life an individual representing significant impact had met iwi of his own volition to apologise.

Ms Bennett said this resource consent was one of only two consents in 15 years where the hapu had been able to reach such an outcome, due to the respectful treatment from the applicant.

Jason Pou, counsel for Te Arawa, said it was clear why Te Arawa had picked the path they did. "They are here for the taonga, they are not hear to lay blame."


Mr Pou also spoke of the wreck Seafire and how Ngati Awa had been involved in the process of its sinking in 2008 near an area of cultural significance.

Ngati Awa supporting the resource consent made the allegations of mauri not being able to exist with a foreign object inconsistent.

"Because Ngati Awa were involved in the process, those issues were appropriately dealt with."

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