Photos: Rena underwater four years on

(Photo: Darryl Torckler/3 News)
(Photo: Darryl Torckler/3 News)

New underwater images of the Rena wreck show the cargo ship resting on the Astrolabe Reef, four years after it ran aground in October 2011.

A hearing is underway in Tauranga to decide whether the wreck should stay on the reef, or whether it should be removed.

The owners of the Rena, Daina Shipping, want pieces of the wreck to stay where they are due to the ongoing cost and danger of removing the ship. They've applied for resource consent to allow the ship to remain on the reef.

"The application for Resource Consent before the tribunal is not simply a proposal by the owner and its underwriters," says Daina Shipping's representative Konstantinos Zacharatos. "It is an application that has been developed and informed every step of the way with the feedback of the community, local authorities and Maori."

Mr Zacharatos told the hearing the company has been working with local iwi throughout the process, and has gained large support for the consent application.

"Our effort has been to be transparent and open. We provided a draft of the resource consent application to all iwi we engaged with, months before lodgement, and made our experts available for meetings in order to inform Maori and ensure that they had an opportunity to tell us their thoughts and advise what we had not covered, or concerns we had not addressed."

So far the salvage operation has cost close to $500 million, making it the second most expensive maritime disaster in history after the capsize of the Costa Concordia cruiseship in Italy.

The hearing is set down for three weeks.

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