Labour says it will ensure the owners of the Rena
fully remove the wrecked container ship if elected to
Making the announcement in Tauranga today, Labour leader
David Cunliffe said his government would order that the whole
wreck be taken off the Astrolabe Reef in the Bay of Plenty.
It comes after the ship's owners and insurers recently
confirmed they would seek resource consent to leave much of
the wreck on the reef.
The company expected the application, likely to be directly
referred to the Environment Court, would be lodged between
the end of this month and May.
Bay of Plenty iwi, along with Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby,
have voiced their opposition to the idea.
Mr Cunliffe said the decision to seek permission to leave
part of the wreck was an insult to Bay of Plenty people and
to the environment.
"Daina Shipping must be made to clean up the wreckage and pay
for the cost of doing so," he said.
"A Labour government will clean the reef up. We will make the
Rena's owner pay through any means possible."
It has been suggested that removing the entire wreck could
take a decade.
The owners, who have spent $350 million since the Rena
grounded in October 2011, also argue that doing so would be a
highly dangerous undertaking.
Just getting the wreck to an environmentally benign state has
been a challenging task, with two divers already sent to
hospital during preparations for removal of the ship's
In 2012, the Government announced a settlement whereby owners
Daina Shipping agreed to pay $27.6 million compensation to
the Crown and a further $10.4 million if the company applied
for and was successfully granted consent to leave part of the
Mr Cunliffe said the offer "must look attractive" and
questioned whether it was the Government or Daina Shipping
who floated the idea.
"[Government Minister and Tauranga MP] Simon Bridges said
that in an 'ideal world' the Rena would be removed
completely. Labour will make that ideal world a reality."
When asked how an elected Labour Government would address
settlements that had already been signed between the parties,
Mr Cunliffe said legal advice would be needed to check on any
"My understand is that the decision ultimately still remains
with the New Zealand Government, as to whether that wreck
remains on that reef."
The announcement follows a challenge by a tiny hapu on Motiti
Island, near the wreck site, for the terms of the settlement
to be made public.
The Waitangi Tribunal, considering a claim by Ngai Te Hapu,
had asked for submissions on whether the settlement deeds
should be disclosed.
Meanwhile, underwater cutting work to remove the
accommodation block of the ship began at the wreck site this
It was expected the entire salvage operation, which began
after the ship hit the reef in 2011 and is still going, would
ultimately cost the owners more than $350 millon.
Between two to three days cutting and lifting were required
on the house, and there had been more than 80 days'
specialist salvage dive preparations at depths of about 46
A spokesman for the owners previously said there were
misconceptions about the wreck, among them that the reef had
been destroyed and that the wreck would continue to cause
harmful emissions over time.
- by Jamie Morton, NZ Herald