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OPC Launches Its Enquiry Into Mangatepopo Tragedy

For Immediate Release

26 May 2008

OPC Launches Its Enquiry Into Mangatepopo River Tragedy

The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre announced today that it has launched its own independent review of the Mangatepopo River tragedy that claimed seven lives on April 15.

The chairman of the OPC Hillary Centres, Mr Grant McKenzie, said the review would start immediately and was expected to be completed in approximately six weeks.

It will be undertaken by an independent panel that includes Australian associate professor Dr Andrew Brookes; the chairman of the Register of Outdoor Auditors (ROSA), Mr Mark Smith, and Mr Bruce Corkill QC.

Mr McKenzie said each of the review team was a leader in their respective fields. Dr Brookes has been part of the enquiry process into every outdoor education death in Australia; Mr Smith is New Zealand’s foremost outdoor risk management and audit expert, while Mr Corkill QC, specialises in professional inquiries, employment and personal injury work.

“We will make a summary of the report findings public and forward the full report to the Police and the Department of Labour to assist with their separate enquiries,” Mr McKenzie said.

“Our Trustees have asked the review team to identify any matters, either unique to the particular events, or of a more systemic nature, that could have contributed to the tragedy, and to make recommendations about how improvements could be made to ensure that OPC Hillary Centre is as safe as is practically possible.”

Mr McKenzie said the review team was not being asked to establish legal or moral fault. The legal responsibility would be dealt with by other agencies.

The specific terms of reference for this enquiry are:

• Establish the essential facts leading to the loss of lives in the Mangatepopo Gorge on 15 April 2008, including OPC’s emergency response on that day.

• Review OPC safety policies and practices relating to the Mangatepopo Gorge both in general terms and specifically in relation to the events on 15 April 2008, including OPC’s emergency preparedness and performance on that day.

• Make any recommendations in relation to those policies and practices the Review Team sees fit.

All information required from OPC by the review team will be made available. The review team will determine its own processes, which will be inquisitorial, meaning it will have regard to the principles of natural justice where appropriate, Mr McKenzie said.

“If the Review team considers issues outside the terms of reference should be considered as part of the review, then a request to alter the terms of reference, with reasons for that request, would be made to the Trustees,” he said.


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