The chairman of a Tauranga iwi, says the Rena disaster has re-inforced the need for Maori to protect the environment in a more meaningful way.
The 47,000 tonne container ship Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe reef 22km offshore from Tauranga on 5 October and began spilling oil into the sea.
Charlie Tawhiao from Ngai Te Rangi iwi says what became an environmental disaster has changed the way Maori view themselves.
He says it's re-emphasised what they stand for, in terms of their relationship with the environment particularly the moana or sea.
Mr Tawhiao says Tauranga harbour is an integral part of who Maori are and their makeup.
He says the Rena incident has highlighted the need for iwi to be part of the management and governance of the moana, rather than just complaining when there's a crisis.