The legal challenge against leaving the wreck of the Rena on Astrolabe Reef has been dismissed.

High Court judge Gerard van Bohemen dismissed the appeal in a judgment released four days before the appeal was due to be heard by the High Court in Tauranga on Monday.

He was ruling on an application by the Astrolabe Community Trust, a trust funded by the insurer of the container ship that ran aground on Astrolabe Reef (Ōtaiti) nearly seven years ago.

The trust applied to the court to dismiss the appeal by Ngai Te Hapu against decisions by the Environment Court to grant conditional consents to abandon the wreck on the reef and the discharge of contaminants.

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''The stay of the resource consents granted by the Environment Court in its decision of April 19, 2018, is lifted,'' Justice van Bohemen said.

The full reasons for his decisions were to follow later, but in summary, he said Ngai Te Hapu had failed to provide security for costs as ordered by the High Court on April 11, 2018, and had failed to explain why no steps were taken to raise the security.

The stern of the broken off section of the wreck of the Rena deep on Astrolabe Reef. Photo/Darryl Torckler
The stern of the broken off section of the wreck of the Rena deep on Astrolabe Reef. Photo/Darryl Torckler

Justice van Bohemen said in his judgment that there was ''no realistic prospect of the appeal succeeding''.

He said all substantive points of the appeal by Ngai Te Hapu related to the initial decision of the Environment Court delivered on May 18, 2017. Any appeal against this decision was ''well out of time and no application was made for an extension of time''.

He ruled there was no merit in the contention that the Environment Court made an error in law when it decided it did not have jurisdiction to require the removal of the wreck.

Justice van Bohemen said the other substantive points of the appeal by Ngai Te Hapu were intended to buttress the case to remove the wreck.

''Accordingly, they serve little practical purpose if there is no justification to require removal of the wreck.''

He said the other substantive points of the appeal related principally to the evaluation of evidence and determinations of fact by the Environment Court. They had ''little merit in the context of an appeal limited to points of law''.

''There is not and cannot be any challenge to the factual findings by the Environment Court that all that can be done to ameliorate the presence of the wreck has been done. Further works beyond those required by the consent conditions would have detrimental effects on Ōtaiti and would be a safety risk,'' Justice van Bohemen concluded.

Ngai Te Hapu spokesman Buddy Mikaere said they were looking to appeal the decision by Justice van Bohemen.

''It is in the hands of our lawyer - we will see how we go with that ... we are committed to the cause.''

Mikaere said he was disappointed with the decision.

''It has been seven years now. The interesting thing is that we were the first ones to stand up and now we are the last ones standing.''

Stressing that he was expressing a layman's opinion, Mikaere said the Environment Court decision had left a few holes open to challenge.

The wreck of the Rena will remain on the reef. Photo / Darryl Torckler
The wreck of the Rena will remain on the reef. Photo / Darryl Torckler

Ngai Te Hapu had been tied up with working through the technicalities to get to an appeal hearing on the court's substantive case.

He said there had been a ''preliminary skirmish'' on the seeking of security for costs.

''It was rather a large figure of at least five figures. The hapu has not got that kind of money.''

Mikaere said Ngai Te Hapu saw the wreck as having a spiritual impact on the hapu but this had not been reflected in the consent conditions agreed to by the Environment Court.