Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa aims to have Rena wreckage removed

By Taroi Black

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has announced a three-week hearing on the resource consent application to leave part of the MV Rena wreck on Astrolabe Reef will begin in June.

The wreck at Astrolabe (Otaiti) Reef off the coast of Tauranga has remained there since January 2012.

Hearing Commissioner's chairman Gordon Whiting says the panel held a pre-hearing conference two weeks ago to determine an appropriate timeline and procedure.

The panel will include Cultural Commissioner Rauru Kirikiri, Marine Engineer John Lumsden, Environmental Scientist Dr Shane Kelly and retired Environment Court Judge Gordon Whiting.

Factors to be considered at the hearing include Maori culture, salvage, contaminants, ecology, planning, natural character, landscape, dive safety, navigation, social and recreation.

The hearing comes after the Rena's owner Costamare Inc. lodged resource consent applications to leave sections of the wreck on Astrolabe Reef.  The Te Runanga o Ngāti Awa wants the wreckage to be removed.

The owner originally intended to seek a direct referral to the Environment Court but decided to proceed with the regional council hearing last December.