Decision – 26 February 2016

The applications by the ASTROLABE COMMUNITY TRUST for:


1) consent to “dump” the remains of the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo on Astrolabe Reef as a result of the grounding of the vessel on 5 October 2011 pursuant to Section 15A of the RMA; and


2) consent to “discharge” any harmful substances or contaminants from the remains of the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo that may occur over time as a result of the degradation of the vessel pursuant to Section 15B of the RMA; have been granted subject to a comprehensive suite of conditions outlined within the  451 page decision document.


A full copy of this decision is contained in the links below with hard copies available through the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.


MV Rena Decision – Full Report – Volume One and both Appendices


The full report is broken down into sections as below:

Table of Contents and determination of panel

Part 1 Introduction background and factual context

Part 2 The applications and their scope

Part 3 The legal and statutory context and hearing process

Part 4 Assessment of environmental effects

Part 5 Maori Values

Part 6 Consideration of alternatives

Part 7 Evaluation and overall finding

Part 8 Determination

Volume 1 Appendix Proposed consent conditions 23 October 2015 Decision Version

Volume 2 Appendix 1 – Proposed Conditions of consent 30 October 2015 Tracked changes

Volume 2 Appendix 2 – Attachment A to conditions of consent Rena Project Copper Recovery Report April 2015

Volume 2 Appendix 3 – The Common Bundle – relevant statutory provisions and instruments

Volume 2 Appendix 4 – Hearing Appearances


Media Release – Hearing date announced for Rena Resource Consent

Media Release

Hearing date announced for Rena Resource Consent

25 February 2015

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has set the date for the hearing of the application for consent to leave part of the MV Rena on Astrolabe (Otaiti) Reef to begin in Tauranga on 23 June, 2015 and run for approximately three weeks.

A venue for the Hearing is yet to be decided, Chairman Gordon Whiting said in a statement today. The timeline for the process is:

  • 7 April: Survey, video imaging data, ecological characterisation report, most recent sampling results and copper recovery report sent to Regional Council and submitters.
  • 7 – 30 April: Parties’ experts meet to discuss the issues in a facilitated session.
  • 4 May: Applicant provides evidence from its technical experts
  • 21 May: Regional Council and submitter experts file technical experts’ briefs of evidence.
  • 8 June: Applicant’s rebuttal evidence provided.
  • 23 June: Hearing begins.

The Hearing Commissioners’ panel held a pre-Hearing conference last week to determine an appropriate timeline and procedure, and heard applications on the timing from five parties.

Mr Whiting said the decision on the timeline enabled the parties to progress the Hearing in a “logical and timeous manner which enables all parties to be involved and to present their cases to the Hearing Panel”.

Factors to be considered at the Hearing include Maori culture, salvage, contaminants and ecology, planning, natural character and landscape, dive safety and navigation and social and recreation.

The full Memorandum, all information on the process, submissions and all material for the Hearing can be found


For more media information please contact Sue-Ellen Craig, Ph 027 777 0298.


  • The Hearing panel is chaired by retired Environment Court judge Gordon Whiting, with Cultural Commissioner Rauru Kirikiri, marine engineer John Lumsden and environmental scientist Dr Shane Kelly.
  • The 37,000 tonne cargo ship MV Rena grounded on Otaiti (Astrolabe) reef on Wednesday, 5 October 2011 with 1368 containers and about 1,700 tonnes of oil on board. A massive clean-up operation was undertaken, with more than 8000 volunteers assisting. The salvage operation is now being handed over to a local firm to continue clearing the debris.
  • Most containers have been recovered, and much of the rest has been reduced to scrap by the sea. A total of more than 3,344 tonnes of debris has been recovered, including container parts, scrap cargo, aluminium ingots, tyres, fibreboard and wire.
  • In May 2014 the Rena’s owner lodged resource consent applications to leave sections of the wreck on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef, and to provide for any future discharges of contaminants. The Applicant originally indicated that it intended to seek a direct referral to the Environment Court, but decided to proceed to a Regional Council hearing in December last year. 

Panel Memo I – Pre-Hearing Conference


IN THE MATTER OF  the Resource Management Act 1991 


IN THE MATER OF  Applications under Sections 15(A) and 15(B) of the Resource Management Act by ASTROLABE COMMUNITY TRUST for resource consents to dump (abandon) the remains of the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo, and associated debris field on Otaiti/Astrolabe Reef and to authorise any future discharges of contaminants from the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo, and associated debris field to the Coastal Marine Area.

Date: 5 February 2015



  1. On the 30th day of May 2014 the Applicant applied to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council under Sections 15(A) and 15(B) of the Resource Management Act for resource consent to dump (abandon) the remains of the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo, and associated debris field on Otaiti/Astrolabe Reef and to authorise any future discharges of contaminants from the MV Rena, its equipment and cargo, and associated debris field to the Coastal Marine Area. On Friday, 3 February 2015, the Regional Council appointed a Panel of Commissioners under Section 34(A) to hear and determine the application.  Panel members are: Judge Gordon Whiting (Chairperson), Dr Shane Kelly, Rauru Kirikiri and John Lumsden.

Timeline and Hearing Procedure

  1. The Panel is required to process the application in an efficient manner having regard to the interest of the Applicant, Regional Council, and the Submitters.  On Sunday, 1 February 2015 the Hearing Administrator received a Memorandum from the Applicant setting out a proposed timeline and process for the Hearing.  This is attached as Appendix One.  The Panel proposes to hold a Pre-Hearing Conference on Friday, 20 February 2015 in the Exhibition Hall at Trinity Wharf, 51 Dive Crescent, Tauranga commencing at 10.00am to determine an appropriate timeline and procedure.
  1. Any person who wishes to make comment on the Memorandum lodged by the applicant, or who wishes to make any further suggestions relating to the timeline and/or matters of procedure may be lodged, in writing, with the Hearing Administrator by 12.00 midday on Wednesday, 18 February 2015.
  1. The Panel will consider all of the documentation lodged and will hear any further verbal submissions at the pre-hearing conference.

Hearing Venue

  1. It is proposed that the Hearing will be held at the ASB Arena, Tauranga on a date and time to be set at the Pre-Hearing Conference.
  1. The panel notes that cultural issues are likely to be significant.  The panel wishes to indicate that in accordance with Tikanga Māori it will consider any application for Māori cultural evidence to be heard on a Marae or other appropriate venue. 

Site Visit(s)

  1. The Panel proposes to carry out a site visit by boat on Thursday, 19 February 2015. This is solely for the purpose of understanding the geography of the area for better understanding the application documents and submissions. A further site visit(s) will be undertaken if the parties so wish and after discussion with them.

Appendix 1 67891 Lowndes – Memorandum to the Chair of the Hearings Panel by Counsel for Applicant concering Pre-Hearing and Timetabling Matters

Appendix 1 67891 Draft proposed timetable from applicant – January 2015

Media Release – Maritime NZ to allow temporary pause in Rena salvage activities required by the Maritime Transport Act

Following a request from the owners of the Rena to pause salvage work required by the Maritime Transport Act, the Director of Maritime NZ has decided to allow a temporary pause pending resolution of the resource consent application.

This pause will take effect only when the wreck reaches the state set out in the application.

The Rena’s owners lodged a resource consent application under the Resource Management Act to leave sections of the wreck and associated debris in place on Otaiti (Astrolabe) Reef and to provide for any future discharges of contaminants that may arise from leaving the wreck in place.

The owners’ application states that the wreck will be left in an “as benign as practicable state”. The application is set out here: 

The application is expected to be heard later this year by commissioners appointed by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

In allowing a temporary pause, two notices imposed by the Director of Maritime NZ will remain in place declaring the wreck a “hazardous ship” (under section 47 of the Maritime Transport Act) and a “hazard to navigation” (under section 100A of the MTA).

The notices – which have recently been updated to reflect the current state of the salvage operation – require debris removal, and removal of all known copper cargo, to be completed to a depth of 30m, and any release of hazardous substances to be monitored.

Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said the owners were also required to continue to ensure any flotsam or debris escaping from the wreck would continue to be handled appropriately.

“This will be a temporary measure to allow the owners to go through the resource consent application process. Maritime NZ accepts that it is not reasonable to require further salvage work to be carried out, beyond what is required to reach the wreck state set out in the application, until resolution of that process.”

Media Release – Commissioners Appointed for Rena Consent Hearing

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has appointed four Commissioners to hear the application from the Rena owners for a resource consent to leave part of the wreck on Astrolabe Reef (Otaiti).

The hearing panel will be chaired by retired Environment Court judge Gordon Whiting, with Cultural Commissioner Rauru Kirikiri, marine engineer John Lumsden and environmental scientist Dr Shane Kelly.

Regional Council Deputy Chief Executive Eddie Grogan said now the Commissioners had been appointed, dates, a venue and requirements for the hearing would be confirmed by the end of February.

Judge Whiting has extensive experience in resource management law. He has presided over a number of significant resource management cases involving conflicting uses of public and private interests. Judge Whiting chaired Boards of Inquiry for New Zealand King Salmon, Te Mihi Geothermal Power Station and Tauhara II Geothermal Power Station applications.

Cultural Commissioner Rauru Kirikiri has extensive experience on a wide range of Māori cultural issues, and is an experienced consent Commissioner. He is of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui descent, and has experience in science research project management and facilitation, as well as undertaking postings for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to Washington, Suva and London.

Marine engineer John Lumsden has extensive dive experience, managing freshwater and marine investigations which include a deep water diving inspection of the Māui gas platform. He is an experienced Hearing Commissioner on a wide range of applications including port development, coastal works, discharges and mining.

Environmental scientist Dr Shane Kelly has a diverse range of experience across applied science, environmental assessment, marine conservation and resource management with extensive experience providing technical advice on the effects of numerous coastal and land use activities to both the public and private sector.

He has managed major research, monitoring and strategic projects that have spanned most of  New Zealand’s coastline and main harbours and is the Honorary Academic Associate of the University of Auckland’s Leigh Marine Laboratory.

Source: Bay of Plenty Regional Council

Final report of Transport Accident Investigation Commission

 The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has released its final report into the grounding of the Rena. Read the report on the Commission’s website.

Source: Transport Accident Investigation Commission



The Bay of Plenty Regional Council said today it would appoint a panel of independent Commissioners to hear the Resource Consent Application by the Astrolabe Community Trust to leave the wreck of the Rena and associated debris in place.

“Now that we have confirmation that the Application is to proceed to a Council hearing rather than directly to the Environment Court, we have a very clear process to follow for a full Resource Consent hearing,” said Eddie Grogan, Deputy Chief Executive of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Mr Grogan said there would be an extensive search to identify appropriately qualified Commissioners, given that a number of technical experts were already engaged for either the Applicant or the Council, and it will be important to ensure that the Commissioners who will hear the Application will be neutral and not have any pre-determined views on the issues involved.

Once the panel of Commissioners has been appointed, submitters will be given notice of the location and dates for the hearing, which will be next year.

“We will be advising all those who made a submission on the Resource Consent Application of their rights to attend and make submissions in person to the hearing,”  Mr Grogan said.

Information on the process of a full Resource Consent hearing can be found at 

 Source: Bay of Plenty Regional Council

TMC – Full Wreck Removal Feasibility Appraisal Report

The Rena’s owner and its insurer have commissioned a Wreck Removal Feasibility Report. This has been prepared by international salvage and wreck removal specialist consultancy TMC (Marine Consultants) Ltd, who have been involved in the Rena salvage on behalf of the owner since the grounding.

Please follow this link to go through to the Rena Project website to download a copy of the report.

Rena Operational Update

Rena Operational Update

From the Rena”s owner and insurers. 

An underwater sonar survey following tropical storm Lusi in March has confirmed a shift in the position and condition of the Rena wreck on Astrolabe Reef.

The movement means the removal of the second part of the ship’s accommodation will not be pursued, given it is no longer expected to release flotsam. The remaining section now lies in deeper water (between -24m and -53m), beyond depths typically accessed by recreational divers, and will therefore form part of the resource consent application proposal.

Roger King of TMC Marine Consultants says: “The aft section has rotated on the stern, so it is now lying further to starboard and has been significantly weakened, presenting an even greater safety risk and technical challenge for ongoing salvage operations.

“However, the movement has helped to expose container and cargo debris that was previously difficult to access within holds four and five.

“As a consequence, Resolve Salvage and Fire is reconfiguring its large RMG 1000 barge to resume operations to further reduce the debris field, which covers the area of seabed between the bow and aft sections, and alongside the wreck to a depth of about 30 metres,” said Mr King.

A second crane will be added to the RMG 1000 for the operation, and a hydraulic grab will be used to recover debris, including parts of the ship structure weighing up to 10 tonnes.

The debris will be sorted into three categories of steel, aluminium and non-metallic refuse before transporting to shore for recycling or disposal. The operation requires additional mooring lines, and an additional large tug has been sourced to assist with the mooring process.

Once the grab can no longer recover sufficient amounts of debris effectively, divers will re-assess the state of the debris field to identify and target specific areas that require further work. This stage will involve the use of dive teams and possibly a powerful magnet.

Resolve has recently removed a 600-tonne port side piece, which is currently being recycled back in port. Divers will now survey the area underneath where the piece lay to try and locate and, if found, recover the last of the plastic bead cargo.

Recent dive surveys of the wreck and debris field have also identified an isolated patch of copper scrap about 1m2 in area, confirmed as the contents from a single container of copper originally loaded in hold six.

This container has not been located during further diver surveys and the majority of the contents are believed to remain largely contained beneath significant structural debris within hold six. Scientific expert assessments do not expect any on-going significant effect from the copper provided it remains contained. This will be the subject of an ongoing environmental monitoring programme.

Mr King added: “Resolve is going to trial a specialist underwater pump to see whether the equipment can be effectively operated in this location, and at such a depth (approx. 30m) to remove the cloves. If successful, this type of equipment may be an appropriate contingency measure, if future monitoring as part of the resource consent proposal, shows any unexpected results. 

Resource Consent Process Update

Information about the resource consent applications, assessment information and the submissions process will be made publicly available from and from Bay of Plenty Regional Council once the Regional Council has completed its review and accepted the application, which was lodged on Friday, 30 May, 2014. 

For further information please contact Hugo Shanahan, Sweeney Vesty Ltd,;  Mobile 027 51115612


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