Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Charges laid over Mangatepopo Gorge deaths


MEDIA RELEASE
14 October 2008
Charges laid over Mangatepopo Gorge deaths

The Department of Labour is prosecuting the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre of New Zealand (OPC) over an accident in the Mangatepopo Gorge on April 15, 2008, that claimed the lives of six students and one teacher from Elim Christian College.

"The Department considers that there were steps OPC should have taken to better ensure the safety of the group on the day," said Mike Munnelly, the Department of Labour's Central Region Manager of Health and Safety Services.

Four charges were laid today under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. Two relate to OPC's obligations to protect the instructor who went into the gorge with the students and teacher. The third relates to OPC's obligation to ensure that its employee's actions didn't expose others to avoidable risks. The fourth charge relates to OPC's obligation to appropriately ensure the safety of other people in the place of work.

The charges were laid in the Wellington District Court, but will be filed in the Taumarunui District Court the closest court to OPC's registered head office and the scene of the incident. The first hearing is likely to be in four to six weeks.

No other charges will be laid by the Department.

Mr Munnelly said the Department wanted to acknowledge the tremendous dignity and strength shown by the victims' families and friends, and by the survivors, despite the trauma they had suffered. "Prosecution action is not commenced lightly by the Department, and we appreciate that this is a difficult time for everyone involved in this tragic event."

"But seven people lost their lives that day and several others were put in serious danger. So it is important that someone is required to answer what the Department says were failures to better ensure the safety of the group. Our hope is that this prosecution may help prevent others from suffering a similar loss in future."

As this matter is now before the court no interviews or further comment will be provided.

ENDS

Editor's Note
The health and safety services, formerly referred to as Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) should now be referred to as the Department of Labour.
Details of the charges - OPC has been charged under the Health and Safety in Employment Act in relation to:
Section 6 and 50(1)(a) - As an employer, it failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employee, Jodie Sullivan, while at work;
Section 10(2)(c) and 50(1)(a) - As an employer, it failed to monitor Jodie Sullivan's exposure to the hazard of a flash flood;
Section 15 and 50(1)(a) - As an employer, it failed to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction of Jodie Sullivan harmed any other person;
Section 16(2)(b)(i) - As a person who controlled a place of work, it failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of persons in the place.
The last two charges have been laid in the alternative, which means the Department is seeking conviction on one, but not both, of these charges.

Why the Department of Labour is involved
The Department investigates when people are killed or seriously injured in a workplace, and in this case the Mangatepopo Gorge is considered a workplace.

These investigations try to identify what led to the accident, whether anything could have been done under the circumstances to prevent it, and what steps could be taken to prevent a similar accident in future.

Potential penalties
If OPC pleads guilty to, or is found guilty of, the charges above, the Court may sentence it to a fine of up to $250,000 per offence, reparation to victims, or both.

ends


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why Labour Isn’t Responsible For Barnaby Joyce

As a desperate Turnbull government tries to treat the Barnaby Joyce affair as a Pauline Hanson fever dream – blame it on the foreigners! We’re the victims of the dastardly New Zealand Labour Party! – our own government has chosen to further that narrative, and make itself an accomplice.

Evidently, the National government is similarly desperate for anything that might discredit or derail the Ardern juggernaut, even if that means throwing Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne under a bus More>>

 

Treaty: Agreement In Principle Signed With Moriori

“The Crown acknowledges Moriori was left virtually landless from 1870, hindering its cultural, social and economic development. The Crown also acknowledges its contribution to the myths that the people of Moriori were racially inferior and became extinct." More>>

ALSO:

Susan Devoy: Call For Inquiry Into State Abuse Reaches UN

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is in Geneva and has asked a United Nations committee to urge the New Zealand government to initiate an inquiry into the physical and sexual abuse of children and disabled people held in state institutions. More>>

ALSO:

(Not National): Cross-Party Agreement On Pike River Re-Entry

The commitment was signed this afternoon by the leaders of Labour, United Future, The Maori Party, and the Green Party and, together with the earlier commitment by New Zealand First, means that there is now a Parliamentary majority behind the families’ fight for truth and justice. More>>

ALSO:

Earlier:

Mental Health Foundation: 'Positive First Steps'

“The heavy reliance on pilots and targeted approaches in the package announced today makes it plain that additional funding will be needed so that activities that work can be made available throughout New Zealand,” says Mr Robinson. More>>

ALSO:

'Gift' To NZ: Synod Considers Third Christchurch Cathedral Option

Members of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch will consider three, not two, options regarding the future of the ChristChurch Cathedral... The new option is for the Synod to gift the Cathedral building to the Government for the people of New Zealand. More>>

ALSO:

PM's Presser: Labour's Water Policy 'Reckless', Says English

The Labour Party has "bumbled into" its policy to charge for water in a "reckless" way that would put a Labour-led government on a collision course with both Maori and other water users, Prime Minister Bill English said at his weekly post-Cabinet press conference.. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election