New Zealand
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Whakaari Helicopter Operators Plead Guilty

Three helicopter tour operators, charged by WorkSafe New Zealand for health and safety failings related to Whakaari, have pleaded guilty to amended charges today.

WorkSafe charged Volcanic Air Safaris Limited, Kahu NZ Limited and Aerius Limited under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 following a near 12-month investigation.

“The survivors, and the family and whānau of those who passed, will be in many people’s thoughts today,” says WorkSafe Chief Executive Phil Parkes. “Whakaari was an absolute tragedy, and we remember everyone who was impacted.”

“These pleas acknowledge the processes that should have been in place to look after people’s health and safety on the day Whakaari erupted.”

Six parties have now pleaded guilty to health and safety failings related to operations around Whakaari.

Background:

WorkSafe did not investigate the rescue and recovery of victims following the eruption. On those matters, no enforcement action has been taken.

Of the 22 people who died, one was a customer of Volcanic Air Safaris Limited. Nineteen White Island Tours customers and two employees died.

Volcanic Air Safaris Limited, Kahu NZ Limited and Aerius Limited entered guilty pleas at the Auckland District Court on 7 July 2023.

Volcanic Air Safaris Limited was charged under Section 36(1)(a), 36(2), 48(1) and 48(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Failing to comply with a duty to ensure the health and safety of workers so far as is reasonably practicable.

Failing to comply with a duty to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety of other persons was not put at risk.

Kahu NZ Limited and Aerius Limited were charged under Section 36(1)(a), 36(2), 49(1) and 49(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Failing to comply with a duty to ensure the health and safety of workers so far as is reasonably practicable.

Failing to comply with a duty to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety of other persons was not put at risk.

Charges under Section 48 carry a maximum penalty of a fine not exceeding $1.5 million.

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