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Pilot prosecuted for near landing on Aoraki / Mt Cook

9 April 2013

Pilot prosecuted for near landing on Aoraki / Mt Cook

The Department of Conservation (DOC) has successfully prosecuted a helicopter pilot for illegally hovering over the summit of Aoraki / Mt Cook.

Jason Manderson, of Mapua, pleaded guilty in the Timaru District Court today to charges of hovering over the highest point of Aoraki / Mt Cook without authority.

Her Honour Judge Maze described the offence as “sacrilege to the people of Ngāi Tahu” and imposed a fine of $3750 under the Mount Cook National Park Bylaws.

The offence occurred on 24 December 2011 during a sightseeing flight from Fox Glacier Township when Manderson was working for Fox and Franz Josef Heliservices.

The unauthorised hovering was a serious breach of the park bylaws and aircraft user guidelines and insulting to Ngāi Tahu’s relationship with Aoraki, acting DOC Aoraki Area Manager, Ronan Grew said.

“The Department will not tolerate such flagrant disregard for flying rules in the park and near this culturally important mountain.”

“Aircraft are not allowed to land or hover in the near vicinity of Aoraki / Mt Cook and can only land at approved landing sites in the national park,” said Grew.

“Not only were Manderson’s actions in breach of the law, they were also against the agreed aircraft operators’ guidelines to avoid flying near the summit of Aoraki and minimise impacts on other park users.”

Aoraki / Mt Cook represents a sacred ancestor to Ngāi Tahu, from whom the iwi descend. Its Tōpuni status, established through their Treaty settlement, is a public symbol of Ngāi Tahu’s enduring rangatiratanga and manawhenua over the mountain.

“Manderson’s arrogance was ultimately his downfall when he provided evidence of his offending by posting photos online,” said Grew. Manderson, was sent photos and put them on Facebook.


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