Around 200 Ngāti Awa descendants gathered at the RENA resource consent hearings today, which enters its third week in Tauranga.
Today, representatives of Te Patuwai hapū and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa gave evidence. In her testimony at the hearing this morning, Te Patuwai representative Karla Akuhata stated that her people’s stance is to remove the wreck in its entirety, “the contaminants endanger their way of life, their people and their future generations," said Ms Akuhata.
This however goes against views presented last Friday from Nepia Ranapia of Te Kāhui Kaumatua o Te Patuwai who live on Motiti.
Mr Ranapia told the panel that Otaiti (Astrolabe reef) has suffered and that the RENA wreck should be left as it is. He says removing it could also affect their food sources. "Our traditional food gathering beds, those things are precious to us. We need to consider the affects the removal will have on our resources," Ranapia adds.
However today, legal representatives for Te Patuwai Tribal Committee argued that the RENA hearings’ panel should decline the submission made by Mr Ranapia and Te Kāhui Kaumatua o Te Patuwai.
Pouroto Ngaropo of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa supports the argument and says Te Patuwai Tribal Committee are the true representatives and their views are clear that the wreck must be removed in its entirety.
The six week hearing for the resource consent began on Monday Sept 7. The Bay of Plenty Regional council has received 153 submissions concerning the wreck, which resulted when the RENA ran aground on the Astrolabe reef Oct 5 2011.
Our Waiariki reporter Mere McLean will have more regarding the hearings at 5:30pm on Te Kāea, Māori Television.