A group fighting for reimbursement after the Rena disaster
says the application to leave the wreck on the reef is a "big
middle finger up" to the Bay community.
The owners of the Rena this week announced they will lodge an
application to leave the wreck on the seabed by May this
The move has dismayed many of the Bay's leaders, business
people and community members who say it would be an awful
legacy for the region.
Those who cleaned up in the days after the disaster and
people still fighting for compensation said the Rena's owners
had been "ducking and diving".
They were calling for the Government to "stand up" and force
the full removal of Rena.
Mount Maunganui man Dominico Zapata, who helped with the
clean-up, said the cost of the legal battle would impact on
"They are just dragging the community through the whole legal
process which just costs the community again. They are
rubbing our nose in it," he said.
Mr Zapata said he would be voicing his opinion through the
"We've got to get behind our mayor and our community leaders
that are taking charge on this and back them up and make sure
we get an outcome that suits the community."
Independent MP Brendan Horan said he was not surprised to
hear the owners would be applying for consent to leave the
Rena on the reef as he first warned in Parliament of the
owners' intentions on July 2, 2013. "What needs to happen
today is for National to get into the real world and stand up
for New Zealand by committing to require the complete removal
of the wreck by the owners, even if it means pursuing them
through courts around the world."
Nevan Lancaster, of the Rena Business Compensation Group,
told the Bay of Plenty Times their legal costs had hit the
half-million dollar mark as they fought for compensation.
"The application to leave the Rena on the reef is just
another big middle finger up to the community," he said.
"The law explicitly says it must be removed, so why is any of
it still there?"
Bay of Plenty Regional Council chairman Doug Leeder said the
announcement was disappointing but there was a long process
to go through before a decision was reached.
"The regional council will be making a submission. There are
points for and points against in terms of removing it. I
would think it will ultimately get down to the technical
feasibility," he said.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said if resource consent
was granted it would be appropriate that the taxpayers of New
Zealand should benefit from the savings to the owners and
insurers as a result.
Mr Brownlee said the Government was focused on ensuring the
grounding of the Rena had the least possible environmental
effects and one of those considerations included the damage
salvage efforts would have.
Director of Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) Keith Manch said he
believed the insurers had done everything possible to get the
wreck to its current state.
Rena Spokesperson Hugo Shanahan could not be contacted last
night however an email sent to the Bay of Plenty Times
earlier this week said the application would include an
assessment of environmental effects.
It said it would provide interested parties with a
comprehensive body of information on the proposal for the
future of the wreck, including environmental monitoring,
wreck access and shore management.
- Amy McGillivray and Natalie Dixon