A Northland dive operator has committed more than quarter of a million dollars to putting things right after school children were put in danger of drowning on one of its trips.
Dive! Tutukaka Limited facilitated the kayaking and snorkeling trip for Tauraroa Area School in the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve in December 2020.
WorkSafe New Zealand investigated after two children became stuck in a sea cave when their shared kayak capsized in rough swells. One got her feet trapped in a crevice and was submerged each time a wave entered the cave. Her rescuer then got stranded on a ledge with the other young kayaker until a rescue helicopter could arrive two hours later. Both children were left emotionally traumatised by the experience.
In response to the incident, Dive! Tutukaka has entered into a legally binding safety pledge, known as an enforceable undertaking, which WorkSafe has accepted. The commitment includes:
- Reparations to the two young victims
- Professional development and training for Dive! Tutukaka workers
- Funding and training for the Northland rescue helicopter, Tutukaka Coastguard, and water confidence programmes for local rangatahi
- Partnering with Education Outdoors New Zealand to upskill providers who work with schools.
“The investment Dive! Tutukaka will make exceeds what even the courts may have ordered in penalties. This demonstrates a substantial commitment to health and safety, with benefits circled back to the community, workers, and the industry,” says WorkSafe’s acting Head of Specialist Interventions, Catalijne Pille.
WorkSafe will regularly monitor progress on the conditions which have been agreed and can resume prosecution if the commitment is not upheld.
“In light of this incident at the Poor Knights Islands, and the recent fatality at Abbey Caves, this commitment is a timely boost for the outdoor education system. Students should be able to participate in activities safely, and parents must have confidence their rangatahi will be kept safe,” says Catalijne Pille.
Tauraroa Area School’s Board of Trustees was sentenced in December 2022 in the Whangārei District Court for its health and safety failures.