Rena:video crack, captain, 2d charged
Rena's captain had been charged under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act. He faces a fine of $7,800 (£5,000) or a maximum prison sentence of 12 months if convicted.
More charges were likely, MNZ said.
He appeared at a court in Tauranga on Wednesday morning and was granted bail for one week, when he is next due in court.
Judge Robert Wolff granted his lawyer's request that the captain's name be suppressed because people "might want to take matters into their own hands".
The captain's passport has been confiscated and he is to remain at a nominated address approved by the prosecutors and make daily reports to a local police station subject to the needs of the salvage operation.
It is not clear how the vessel ran aground on a well-marked reef in calm weather.
The second officer of the stricken ship Rena has been charged. The man, who was in charge of the navigational watch of the vessel, will face a charge of operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk in Tauranga District Court October 13).
4.07pm: Prime Minister John Key has announced the stricken Rena cargo ship has "stress fractures" in its hull and may break up.