The Waitangi Tribunal has found the Crown's agreement with the owners of the container ship Rena damaged its treaty relationship with Maori and risked their ability to engage in the resource consent process.
The vessel's owners sought resource consent to leave what remains of the ship on Astrolabe Reef, off Tauranga, which led to two Motiti Island groups complaining to the Waitangi Tribunal.
The tribunal has today released its final report and found that claims by Motiti Rohe Moana Trust, Ngai Te Hapu and the Mataatua District Maori Council to be well-founded.
The groups were not consulted before the Crown signed the Wreck Removal Deed with the Rena's owners which supported their resource consent bid, and the lack of consultation has breached its Treaty partnership, the report found.
But it also considered that by opting later on partially oppose the owners' bid, the Crown averted a primary prejudice.
The tribunal recommended that the Crown take steps to protect Maori interests in the resource consent process.
A spokesperson for a Motiti Island trust says members feel completely vindicated by the report.
Umuhuri Matehaere, the chairman of the Motiti Rohemoana Trust, said the Crown had effectively disregarded other Rena reports and was not convinced that the Government would act on this one.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges said that soon after the incident, there was an attempt to consult with tangata whenua.