The Final Report on the MV Rena and Motiti Island Claims published
The Waitangi Tribunal’s Final Report on the MV Rena and Motiti Island Claims has been published. In it, the Tribunal adjudged two Bay of Plenty claims concerning the removal of the wreck of the MV Rena from Otaiti (Astrolabe Reef) to be well founded.
The claims, submitted by the Motiti Rohe Moana Trust, the Ngāi Te Hapū Incorporated Society, and the Mataatua District Māori Council, were heard under urgency in Tauranga in June and July 2014 by a Tribunal panel comprising Judge Sarah Reeves (presiding), Ron Crosby, the Honourable Sir Douglas Kidd, and Professor Sir Tamati Reedy.
The Tribunal issued an interim report in July ahead of the Cabinet’s decision in August on whether to support the owners’ application for resource consent to leave the wreck on the reef.
The Tribunal’s final report focuses on the Crown’s conduct in entering into the wreck removal deed as part of its October 2012 settlement with the Rena’s owners. The deed obliged the Crown to consider, in good faith, supporting an application by the owners for resource consent. These obligations, the Tribunal found, placed the Rena’s owners in a special position in the resource consent process in a way that could significantly affect Māori interests in Otaiti.
The Tribunal concluded that the Crown signed the deed without having sufficient knowledge of Māori interests in the reef and without having consulted affected Māori, despite it having been both practical and important for the Crown to have done so. The Crown’s conduct, the Tribunal found, breached the Treaty principles of partnership and mutual benefit.
The Tribunal considered that, by opting in August 2014 to partially oppose the Rena’s owners’ resource consent application, the Crown had averted the primary prejudice that could have arisen. But the Tribunal also found that the Crown’s conduct had damaged its Treaty partnership with the claimants and put at risk their ability to engage meaningfully in the resource consent process.
The Tribunal recommended that the Crown take active steps to protect Māori interests in the resource consent process and assist the active participation of affected Māori.
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