18 Oct 2011

Charter shipping company donates $1m for clean-up

7:40 pm on 18 October 2011

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says he does not accept a $1 million donation from the company that chartered a grounded ship off Tauranga should be the final contribution from those involved in the disaster.

The Rena was heading towards Tauranga from Napier when it hit Astrolabe Reef on 5 October carrying 1700 tonnes of fuel and more than 1300 containers. At least 350 tonnes of oil has spilled into the ocean, polluting beaches in the Bay of Plenty.


The Mediterranean Shipping Company announced on Tuesday it will give the money to local authorities involved in the oil clean-up operation.

The company says although liability for the incident rests with the Greek owner of the Rena, the Costamare Shipping Company and its insurers, it is making the donation because it feels a corporate responsibility to help with the clean-up.

The Mediterranean Shipping Company's New Zealand and Australia general manager Kevin Clarke says a meeting between executives and Mr Joyce at Parliament on Monday provided a clearer understanding of each other's concerns and priorities, but there was no request for a financial contribution to be made.

The company's New Zealand general manager, Phil Abraham, says the donation is a gesture.

"We're an international shipping company; we wish to continue trading here. We have been here for 15 years, we feel a corporate responsibility to participate in helping with the clean-up."

However, Mr Joyce says the donation from Mediterranean Shipping Company might just be the start.

"Depending on where we get with this spill response over the next several weeks it might only be a start ... It's good to see them stepping up to the extent that they have so far, but I wouldn't necessarily accept that that's where it ends.

Prime Minister John Key says the Government wants to extract maximum compensation from the companies associated with the disaster.

Mr Key says the Attorney-General and Crown Law are exploring all legal options to pursue the companies for the cost of the clean-up operation.

He says the clean-up has so far cost about $4 million and does not want taxpayers to foot the bill.