1 Mar 2013

Iwi concerned leaving Rena will harm environment

7:34 pm on 1 March 2013

Bay of Plenty iwi are not convinced that leaving what remains of the Rena on a reef off the coast of Tauranga won't pose a risk to the marine environment.

Insurer The Swedish Club is proposing to leave the rest of the container ship on Astrolabe Reef where it ran aground on 5 October 2011.

The insurer held a consultation meeting with Te Moana a Toi Iwi Leaders Forum in Tauranga on Thursday to outline its proposals.

Joe Harawira, from Te Tohu o Te Ora o Ngati Awa in Whakatane, says he is concerned that containers still in the ship could contain hazardous chemicals which may leak and pollute the environment.

Mr Harawira said even if the wreck is completely removed, the sediment and marine life near the reef need to be thoroughly checked for any traces of pollutants.

As a member of the group Sawmill Workers Against Poisons, he said he knows only too well the danger of carcinogenic materials fouling the environment.

Forum chairman Te Awanui Black said if the insurers do leave the Rena where it is, iwi could well take the matter to the Environment Court.

He said inevitably, there will be community groups and iwi that will oppose any decision not to move the ship.

Mr Black said each of the iwi groups such as runanga, which have a mandate to act on behalf of an iwi, will need to decide on their own whether or not to take court action.

He suggested iwi work together to minimise the workload and costs.