Kiri Gillespie –
Rena’s captain and navigational officer have visited Motiti Island to apologise to residents for grounding the cargo ship on Astrolabe Reef.
When Rena grounded on October 5 last year, Motiti Island was transformed from a pristine green paradise to an oil-soaked mess. Residents were shocked, saddened and angry.
But last Thursday, a meeting for forgiveness was held at one of the island’s marae after a request from a local kaumatua.
The meeting was not made public but the Bay of Plenty Times has since learned of it and another meeting about a month ago at Welcome Bay’s Tahuwhakatiki (Romai) Marae, which was part of the men’s restorative justice programme.
Iwi liaison for Motiti Island Rangi Butler said the Motiti meeting was “wonderful” and broke down barriers.
“Everyone over there forgave them and it was a good thing because now we can move on and they can move on,” she said. “There were three who did not want to forgive so … that’s their choice.”
Ms Butler said the Filipino men were accompanied by their lawyers but spoke using good English.
“We are indigenous to Aotearoa and they are indigenous to their country and at the end of the day it’s about the people. It’s not about political issues, that will come later no doubt. It was good restorative justice.”