The Crown has told an urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing there was pressure to reach a compensation deal with the owners of the Rena because they may have walked away from the negotiating table.
The tribunal is meeting in Tauranga to hear from two Motiti Island hapu groups who claim their Treaty of Waitangi rights have been breached.
The groups want the wreck of the container ship which ran aground on Astrolabe Reef, off the coast of Tauranga in October 2011, to be removed.
But a resource consent application has been lodged by its owner the Daina Shipping Company to leave it where it is.
An agreement between the Crown and company states the Crown will be paid $10.4 million if the consent is granted.
Crown lawyer Karen Clark, QC, told the hearing on Tuesday the deal was signed with the knowledge that the Daina Shipping Company could become insolvent or walk away at any time.
Ms Clark said the clause was put in because they needed to reassure the owner that the application wouldn't be delayed or blocked.
The Attorney-General on Tuesday rejected claims that the Crown is bound to support an application to leave the wreck of the Rena on the reef. A spokesperson for Chris Finlayson said the Cabinet has not yet made any decision on the position it would take.
Crown dishonourable in dealings, says hapu
A spokesperson for a Motiti Island hapu says the Crown has been dishonourable and dishonest with its dealings over the Rena.
Hugh Sayers told the hearing on Tuesday that the hapu has only just had its first consultation meeting with the Crown, almost three years after the grounding.
Mr Sayers said the excuse has been that the Crown didn't know who to speak to. He said that is disgraceful and dishonest because the trust has been dealing with Crown law for five years over a case in the Environment Court.