An environmental consultant in Bay of Plenty says that seeing the wreck of the container ship Rena up close firms his resolve that all of it needs to be removed from Astrolabe Reef.
Buddy Mikaere from Ngati Pukenga is one of the iwi representatives who on Sunday were given their first chance to visit the wreck since the ship hit the reef near Tauranga in October 2011.
He's part of a team which is preparing a legal case against the Rena's owners, should they lodge a resource consent application to leave the remains of the ship on the reef.
Mr Makaere says in his experience it pays to be able to tell a judge thathe has seen at first hand whatever matter is the subject of court action.
Mr Makaere says it's taken the grounding of the Rena, to make him fully appreciate the importance of Astrolabe reef to Maori as a "food basket".
Among the iwi group who visited the wreck was Rangi Butler from Motiti Island, where residents say their lives have been disrupted by the grounding.
She says it was a spiritual trip for the kaumatua, many of whom are over 80, and have an association with the reef from when they young and swam near it and gathered kaimoana.
Rangi Butler says it will take a long time for them to move on from seeing the reef in its present state.
She says one kuia was in tears because she regards it as an urupa or burial ground and leaving the wreck where it is will be desecration.
Rangi Butler says Maori don't regard the reef as just a rock.