A Tauranga Maori tribe has called for an international tender process to test the validity of estimates that removing the rest of the Rena off Astrolabe Reef would cost another $300 million.

Ngai Te Rangi iwi is seeking a "robust assessment" of the cost before the hearings panel rules on the application to leave the wreck on the reef.

Lawyer for the iwi Joshua Gear told the panel the $300 million assessment needed to be viewed in context. "That is, the Swedish Club is an insurer and its purpose as an insurer is to cover the liability of the Rena owner."

The applicant, the Astrolabe Community Trust, said more than $500 million had been spent bringing the wreck to its present state, with full removal estimated to cost another $300 million.

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Mr Gear cited evidence from Crown witness Nick Haslam who said an international tender process was the best way to get a true indication of cost. "The applicant's submission as to the efficient use of resources should not be accepted with full weight."

He said much had been made of the risk to health and safety in salvaging the Rena. However, the fact that salvors had removed a large part of the Rena showed that despite difficult working conditions, removal was achievable.

Mr Gear said statements by salvage witnesses that the benefits would be outweighed by the risks should be tempered by the cultural submissions made in opposition to the application.

Ngai Te Rangi's submission also dealt with the applicant's proposed conditions, saying a 10-year consent was too short and should be extended to the life of the potential contamination from the wreck.

Mr Gear said the 16 tonnes of copper clove remaining on the wreck had been acknowledged by experts as having the potential to have significant ecological effects.

The iwi's Resource Management Unit manager Reon Tuanau said the proposed Kaitiaki Reference Group was not a consideration for Ngai Te Rangi at this stage. "There are clear divisions between the interested hapu and iwi, and a KRG will only highlight those differences to be unworkable."

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1 Oct, 2015 5:00pm
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Neither did the iwi support the proposed Mauri model, saying it did not represent the philosophy of mauri [life force] from Ngati Te Rangi's perspective. "Mauri should not be assessed from a desk."

Trust 'minimising' tribal interests

The community trust seeking to leave the wreck of the Rena on Astrolabe Reef has been accused of minimising Tauranga's tribal interests.

Joshua Gear, the lawyer acting for Tauranga's Ngai Te Rangi Iwi, defended the tribe's authority to oppose the Astrolabe Community Trust's application to leave the wreck on the reef - an application supported by Rotorua's Te Arawa tribe.

Ngai Te Rangi's evidence to yesterday's hearing included details of the iwi's ancestral connections to Motiti and the island's surrounding waters through its main hapu, Te Whanau a Tauwhao.

"Although Tauwhao have been absent from Motiti for a number of years, their connection has never been severed and they still maintain land interests on Motiti."

Mr Gear said that despite Tauwhao's clear authority over Motiti and the reef, submissions made by one of the applicant's witnesses Des Kahotea appeared to distance or minimise the connection between Ngai Te Rangi and Tauwhao.

"There is a particular theme that comes through his [Dr Kahotea's] rebuttal evidence that Tauwhao more appropriately draws its connections to Waitaha of Te Arawa," Mr Gear said.
He said there was no acknowledgement in Mr Kahotea's evidence that Tauwhao was a hapu of Ngai Te Rangi, despite several key statements in the applicant's own resource consent application.

Mr Gear said attempting to override whakapapa [ancestry] connections that were hundreds of years in the making did not appear to be sensible. "But it seems to accord with a strategy to minimise Tauranga moana and elevate Te Arawa as Te Arawa support the proposal."