Labour says it will ensure the Rena owners remove the wrecked container ship if elected to Government.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said in Tauranga yesterday that his government would order that the entire wreck be taken off the Astrolabe Reef in Bay of Plenty.

The ship's owners and insurers have confirmed they would seek resource consent to leave much of the wreck on the reef. The company expected the application, likely to be directly referred to the Environment Court, would be lodged between the end of this month and May.

Bay of Plenty iwi, as well as Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby, have voiced their opposition to the idea.


The ship's owners, who have spent $350 million since the Rena grounded in October 2011, argue that removing all the wreck would be dangerous.

In 2012, the Government announced a settlement whereby owners Daina Shipping agreed to pay $27.6 million compensation to the Crown and a further $10.4 million if the company applied for and was successfully granted consent to leave part of the wreck behind.

Mr Cunliffe said questioned whether it was the Government or Daina Shipping who floated the idea.

"[Government Minister and Tauranga MP] Simon Bridges said that in an 'ideal world' the Rena would be removed completely. Labour will make that ideal world a reality."

But Prime Minister John Key said the wreck's future was up to the local regional council or potentially the Environment Court rather than the Government.

"Is [Mr Cunliffe] really saying that if the Environment Court upholds a decision to leave the wreck there that he'll ride over the top of them? Some people do want it removed, but there are equally many people who think it's a good idea for it to stay there on the basis it makes for a great diving and fishing wreck."