The chairman of a Tauranga iwi says the pollution caused by oil leaked from the container ship Rena has provided an unexpected benefit for some pakeha volunteers.
It's now almost four weeks since the ship hit the Astrolabe reef 22 kilometres off the Tauranga coast.
Ngai Te Rangi Chairman Charlie Tawhiao, from Tauranga, says teams of iwi-organised volunteers have been working alongside their pakeha counterparts to clean up beaches and rocky areas.
He says for many pakeha it has for the first time given them an understanding what a close relationship tangata whenua have with their environment.
Mr Tawhiao says they have also enjoyed the kaupapa way of working together.