The container ship Rena that ran aground and broke up on the Astrolabe Reef, off the Bay of Plenty coast, in 2011 does not pose an environmental risk, the owners say.
Daina Shipping Company is seeking resource consents to abandon what is left of the wreck on the reef.
A panel of independent commissioners began hearing the case at Mount Maunganui this morning.
The sea floor at one of the main areas of the wreck site (video provided by The Rena Project).
The remains of the wreck lie in two parts under the surface - the bow near the top of the reef and the stern in about 75 metres of water. It takes up two percent of the reef area.
Daina Shipping says it has invested a great deal of time and effort and about $500 million in salvaging as much as it could over the last four years.
The company says the wreck now poses minimal risk to the environment and the community.
Its lawyer, Matthew Casey QC, said that even if the application is refused, there was no guarantee the wreck could be removed.