18 Jul 2014

Vindication for Maori over Rena

7:07 pm on 18 July 2014

Motiti Island Maori in the Bay of Plenty feels vindicated by a Waitangi Tribunal report that has found it wasn't consulted properly over agreements on the wreck of the Rena.

The Rena in April 2013

The Rena in April 2013 Photo: RNZ

An interim Tribunal report into the Crown's dealings with tangata whenua has been issued after an urgent hearing was held in Tauranga almost three weeks ago.

The report, released on Friday, found the Crown has failed to fully consult Motiti Island Maori over the application to leave the Rena on the Astrolabe Reef.

It said consultation over deeds which the Crown signed with the Rena's owner was neither robust nor meaningful.

Buddy Mikaere, a spokesperson for Ngai Te Hapu, one of the Motiti Island groups, said the consultation was a tick-box exercise.

The Rena grounded on Astrolabe reef off the Tauranga coast in October 2011 and a resource consent application has been lodged to leave the remaining wreckage where it is.

Buddy Mikaere said the report is particularly scathing of the Crown and the way it dealt with iwi and hapu.

The Crown says it will carefully consider the report and take it into account if it decides to submit on the resource consent application.

The report focuses on the Crown's consultation with Maori after the Crown signed deeds with Rena's owners.

One of the deeds involves the owner of Rena, Daina Shipping Company paying $27.6 million to settle the claims of the Crown and public bodies.

The urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing held in Tauranga.

The urgent Waitangi Tribunal hearing held in Tauranga. Photo: RNZ / Natalie Mankelow

A clause in that deed also allows for a further $10.4 million to be paid to the Crown if the company is granted a resource consent. Under this deed the Crown also agreed to consider making an application in support of the consent application.

In the report Judge Sarah Reeves said the Motiti Island community will bear the brunt of, "what seems likely to be significant adverse cultural and environmental effects if the wreck is allowed to remain on the reef."

She said in that light the Tribunal considered the Crown's consultation with the community was neither robust nor meaningful.

"The consultation process has neither adequately informed the Crown of Maori views, nor adequately equipped Maori to participate usefully or with informed insight in the resource consent process."

The Tribunal determines the Crown broke the good faith and partnership principles of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Judge Reeves also said the Crown faces a significant, if not insurmountable challenge, to fix the situation given its actions to date.

A spokesperson for one of the Claimant groups Ngai Te Hapu, Buddy Mikaere said their stance has been vindicated by the report and he said the "scathing comments" that the Tribunal had made were "unprecedented in recent times."