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What next after the White Island silence?

Written By: - Date published: 9:22 am, December 15th, 2019 - 60 comments
Categories: health and safety, jacinda ardern, tourism, Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

At 2.11pm on Monday December 16, New Zealanders are being invited to hold a minute’s silence to respect those who have died in the White Island/Whakaari explosion.

Once that’s over, it’s time to start turning to what might occur to prevent this kind of disaster happening again.

The policy reaction needs to be very specific and very strong.

The Cave Creek disaster occurred on 28 April 1995 when a scenic viewing platform in Paparoa National Park, New Zealand, collapsed, resulting in the deaths of 14 people. The victims, 13 of whom were university students, fell 40 metres onto rocks below. The net result following the Commission of inquiry was a complete audit of Department of Conservation facilities and a rebuild of many of them.

In 2010 the Pike River mine exploded killed 29 people. Following the Royal Commission, the entire health and safety legislation was overhauled, including the formation of Worksafe New Zealand as a separate and very powerful entity. Rules about liability of business owners to be held liable for accident were made much clearer and tougher. As a result, the entire construction industry continues to go through a revolution.

The reactions to the Christchurch earthquakes of 2011 have required audits of every single structure over a certain age in New Zealand, with thousands of buildings rebuilt or just shuttered. The entire insurance industry is putting real questions over whether they will pay out again if people live in specific zones after the North Canterbury quakes.

On March 15 2019, 51 people were killed in a terrorist attack on two Christchurch mosques. The policy result of this was that most semiautomatic weapons were banned, a massive buy-back scheme was launched through the New Zealand Police, and further strong regulation of all other firearms is well advanced.

The White Island tragedy is different because of the kind of global coverage it got and the kind of people who were killed: tourists.

New Zealand has of course done its best to respond – the heath system and emergency services in particular are working very hard, and locals in the area have provided spiritual leadership that is powerful. Frankly for New Zealand though that is business as usual. That response has significantly decreased the reputational damage that could have been even more massive than it is.

But government needs to act: to re-stabilise not just scramble. New Zealand has made its name as one of the premier adventure centres of the world, and such an event puts a massive question over this massive part of our economy.

I can foresee a few changes.

Coming out of this will need to be variations to the Worksafe legislation to be specific to tour operators. Operators will need to be liable just as constructor companies are, but with more specificity in the relevant clauses. Land owners who are not operators will need liability focused on them as well, to make the commercial gain well balanced by their exposure to litigation and fines. Otherwise it will be hard to see cruise ship companies allowing more than its passengers to get a cup of tea at Akaroa, and they will need stronger legal shields to prevent being sued.

We may also see compulsory medical insurance for tourists. Similar to renting cars here, where they give you choices of indemnity before you complete the transition.

And underneath that will need to be a common classification of activity risk that link to the Worksafe legislation.It was all hijinks and giggles when Stephen Colbert coyly refused to do the bungy jump over the Kawerau River. No one will be laughing now about such risky activity.

But the closest comparator to the White Island disaster is Erebus. Not since the Erebus disaster has New Zealand taken such a direct repetitional hit to its tourist market. And Erebus occurred 40 years ago when tourism was but a fraction of the size and importance to New Zealand that it is now. It took 40 years for those victims to get an apology, and tourism into the Antarctic never recovered.

In 2020 and 2021 New Zealand will have its biggest year for tourism, and with that will come the biggest global media exposure via major events that it has had since Rugby Word Cup. Every single international media crew will cover them. We’ve already had to rehearse how to stop terrorist massacre for that context.

So this government had better respond to reassure the global tourist operator giants and the media who are paid by them to fly here that the tragedy of White Island will not happen again, and spell out precisely how. An entire industry – larger even than construction must respond.

60 comments on “What next after the White Island silence?”

  1. Adrian 1

    Lets just stay in fucking bed. Oh, hang on, most people die in bed. Bugger !. Ban all beds.

    Who's for joining a class action suit against Sleepyhead.

  2. infused 2

    Nothing needs to change as long as the risks are known. The island owners wont be able to get that kind of liability insurance, and forcing health insurance on tourists will never fly.

    Adventure tourism has risks otherwise where’s the thrill? It just needs to be managed well.

    • Ad 2.1

      Were the risks known by the tourists who died that day?

      There's no use putting "as long as…" out-clauses when the facts of who knew what aren't out yet.

      • infused 2.1.1

        yes. they signed a waiver

        • Ad 2.1.1.1

          I missed that.

          Where was that reported? The information on that is going to get important.

        • McFlock 2.1.1.2

          There's the waiver against a theoretically possible outcome that has a very low likelihood of happening when operators thoroughly assess risk each and every time and act accordingly with safety as the top priority.

          Then there's the waiver against an outcome with a significant undeclared probability of occurrence that is only exacerbated by an operator's complacent or even reckless attitude to risk and hazards. The likely invalid waiver.

          I guess we'll find out in the inquiry which waiver they signed.

          If GNS hadn't done the safety assessment (based on the latest data analysed by experts) of whether to put their own people on the island, I strongly suspect the tour operator's own assessment was nowhere near that level of diligence.

  3. Adrian 3

    We should ban cafes, I have watched hugely overweight cruise ship patrons struggle off their floating pig-pens with multiple restaurants only to flop down in the nearest cafe in Picton and order even more food and drink. I would bet that over-indulgence on cruise ships kills more passengers than any so called adventure tourism escapade ever has.

    It is all about manageable risk, I like to drive fast on tracks but given the choice to stand on a crater rim of an active volcano my first reaction is "Fuck off ".

    • Ad 3.1

      Who was managing risk for the now-dead tourists?

      The land owner?

      The tour operator?

      The cruise liner company?

      Themselves?

      Worksafe?

      The Police?

      Their life insurers?

      • Sabine 3.1.1

        The tourists.

        As a human being of a certain age one is considered legally responsible for the action one takes.

        i.e. i go diving with sharks, if i get bitten i could blame the skipper for taking me to the shark infested waters, or i could say i wanted to swim with sharks and a side effect of this might be that i loose a limb or life.

        or, unless the company taking tourists up that island stated that the volcano on the island is dead they would have to assume that volcanic activity is happening and at that stage should also carry some responsability. I.e. don't want to get hit with hot mud, rocks, hot ash etc etc etc don't go there, but if you do, understand and accept that one carries a risk of injury or worse case death.

        Ideally, this island will never be visited by tourists again. Have the fly over with a helicopter if they need to, but don't set foot on it. Certain places should be kept free of people.

        • Ad 3.1.1.1

          The answer is of course all of the above.

          It's the extent of responsibility that needs clarifying.

          Shark cage diving has been tested in the Supreme Court and, while not found illegal, the Supreme Court found this year that new legislation was required in this area.

          Also Maritime New Zealand has put out pretty strong guidelines for regulating this activity.

          There is also a draft law waiting to be passed, which has strong support form the Supreme Court.

          So shark diving is a clear example of a risk being clearly identified, tested in court to the very highest level, and then law being drafted in readiness. And that was without anything specific going wrong.

          Despite morons like the Mayor of Whakatane who want tourists to start going back there, the whole industry of tourist-based risk is going to get evaluated. 15 dead say that's overdue.

          • greywarshark 3.1.1.1.1

            There is that word moron that has cropped up again. I don't think that it should be thrown around casually. While everything can seem so plain if viewed through a telescope, the field is wide and varied and perceptions the same.

            • Ad 3.1.1.1.1.1

              16 dead and people like her are implying we should all go and do the same thing over again is moronic.

  4. greywarshark 4

    An order for the taking of land by the government on the grounds that it should be a National Park. A fair price suitable for an austerity budget, would be paid. Visits would only be undertaken when it was in No.1 mode on the volcanic activity scale, and there would be a refundable health insurance and considerable rescue koha to pay, and if not required, 80% of that would be refunded within seven days.

    • Wayne 4.1

      Fair enough that it be publicly owned and visits done only when risk is at level one.

      But why was it necessary to add in the idea of confiscatory expropriation. In any event there is already existing law for public takings of land, with an independent Land Valuation Tribunal to determine compensation if it is not agreed.

    • KJT 4.2

      I thought the Iwi owned it?

  5. Sabine 5

    Lets' ban life, its deadly and no matter how much kale one eats and how much they wrap themselves in cottonfluff and bubblewrap to prevent injury we all die when we reach the end of our life.

    really, what ever happened to ‘Enter on your own risk, Parents are responsible for hte damage their kids cause, etc etc etc.
    No one ‘has’ to go there, those that want to should be educated about the risk of entering and that is all that needs to be done.

  6. bwaghorn 6

    What about the workers!!

    The company's reaction to a raising of the threat level was to put more staff in harm's way .

    • Adrian 6.1

      People don't go there to stare a a bone dry hole in the top of a hill. if you want to do that go the Mt Eden.

  7. Stuart Munro. 7

    I don't think we covered ourselves in glory on this one, but a rules fest isn't necessarily the answer.

    A place to start might be comparable risk tourism- Hawaian or Icelandic volcano tourism. I've a feeling that form filling & box ticking is not the defining feature of any safety advantage they may possess.

    • Stuart Munro. 7.1

      The question that sèems obvious to me is: given that it was demonstrably unsafe on the day, which operators declined to operate? And, if none did decline, what information would they have required to decline to operate?

      If operators have not and cannot develop that expertise, continued tours are not feasible.

    • Ad 7.2

      There's no way out of "form filling" in a regulated society. That's especially the case in tourism.

      To even drive a vehicle with passengers in it you need a P License, and there's a fair bit to getting and retaining one of those.

      Hawaii has extensive safety guidelines for volcano geotourism, probably brought on by a really strong tort culture in the US legal system.

      https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/danger-paradise-hidden-hazards-volcano-geotourism

      The anxiety about the risks taken in volcano tourism has been growing in Iceland for a while.

      https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/tourists-are-getting-too-close-and-personal-volcanoes-180971102/

      But this event is well and truly big enough to set a global benchmark: every country with tourism into active volcanoes will change practices after this.

      • Stuart Munro. 7.2.1

        "…you need a p license and there's a fair bit to getting and retaining one of those"

        All of which went for nought.

        • Ad 7.2.1.1

          Indeed; the regulation was insufficient.

          • Stuart Munro. 7.2.1.1.1

            Rather than regulating you'd do better with specialist risk assessment – a vulcanologist that reports daily on ruapehu, rotovegas, white island & the Auckland field. Shitty job mind, a bloke to carry the can for others' irresponsibility – but at least they wouldn't be stuck between commercial and safety priorities.

            You repose too much faith in regulation in NZ. About 25 years ago I did my coastal masters ticket – not the dayboat skipper, the one that lets one take out 200 passengers and drown them. That very year I was aboard one of six Simunovich boats that sailed in a convoy to the Chatams. Only one was qualified to do so. Did they lose their tickets? They did not. They didn"t even receive a significant fine.

            • Ad 7.2.1.1.1.1

              Agree that licenses are only one part of regulation. But they are still necessary.

              The detail of who had what kind of license and how that was monitored and enforced – and whether that was adequate – will come out in the inevitable reviews.

              Also agree about specialist risk assessment. When you require a specialist risk assessment into a decision, you are creating regulation.

            • KJT 7.2.1.1.1.2

              I've had a hell of a lot to do with Maritime safety over the years.

              Lets just say, there are a lot of good, experienced and qualified people in MNZ, but taxi drivers and real estate agents, are put in charge.

              Two episodes, of many, I know of over the years, are a ferry operator who was allowed to carry school children, without any form of certificate, and a coastal ship being told to drill holes in the bow, to get tonnage requirements down, so they could have less crew.

              A lot of rules and procedures are one way of trying to make things safer. Often failing, when the situation doesn't follow the rules.

              A high standard of skills, training, competence and knowledge, is another. Not popular these days, because it is more expensive than just picking up a job lot of cheap labour, and using procedures to ensure the cheap labour still carries the responsibility. "I told them not to do that,, on page 2632. Subsection q, part 103, rule 75".
              Ideally, tour companies and guides should be given the skills to assess, and minimise risk. The approach taken by licenced bungy jumping. In this case GNS scale 2 and up may be an unacceptable level of risk.

  8. A 8

    Only thing needed is personal responsibility. Harsh but at the end of the day if this is not recognised we will find our lives stangled with pointless red tape and warning labels.

    • Incognito 8.1

      Arguably, people need protection (sometimes against themselves} because they cannot know and safely judge all risks. How many safe law-abiding people have been killed by speeding and/or drunk drivers? How many people have been killed by the measles in Samoa? The death toll stands at 72. Sometimes, just sometimes, people need to be told what’s best for them and what they can and cannot do. Unfortunately, many react like petulant little children. For me, personal responsibility starts with accepting that I don’t know everything – in fact, very little – that I don’t know best and that it might be a good idea to seek and follow good advice before jumping in the deep end. If I sound like a boring old fart it is because I am one; I take calculated risks in other ways (with mixed results, I should add).

      • greywarshark 8.1.1

        Edit
        A has a point. In Lord of the Rings, Sam took personal responsibility to save his world from sure disaster if he didn't get rid of the malign thing into the fire. He was committed to preventing the consequences of this power remaining to blight all, and actually prepared to die for it.

        Personal responsibility yes. All the people, the workers, the owners, the lookers, the scientists, should sign a legal document that they agree that they are prepared to die as a result of their wish to visit and personally see and experience this island which is an active volcano. At the base of the form will be set out how much their estate will be charged if they are tourists, to recover and deal with their bodies alive or dead, and if they are workers or scientists, how much their employers will pay to their estate in compensation for their injury or death, and that a sum of money has been invested in a legal and protected trust in advance, to ensure it can be provided if necessary.

        They will also be charged an insurance fee calculated against the possibility of any urgent recovery operation required to remove them to safety because of unsafe sea or land conditions whether known or unknown.

        Perfect, informed information should be provided to all involved, and informed consent be given by the participants.

        We must be careful as to the what dangers we expose people to, and the level of danger. Individually we might be self-centred, disinterested and callous, but tourists and others put their trust in us, and it won’t be good for our mana overseas, and our desire to get people to come here and spend money if we seem like a bunch of renegades and uncivilised pirates here at the bottom of the world. Trust is an important word in human society, and the actions of a selfish, careless individualistic society do not lead to trust. We must be careful to preserve a good reputation that we are trust-worthy. That reputation is rightly in jeopardy at present.

        • Incognito 8.1.1.1

          Isn’t it interesting that these kinds of conversations eventually all gravitate towards discussing money and financial risks? Maybe we should ask PHARMAC and ACC to calculate the QALYs and charge accordingly. If you are too stupid to drink too much and then jump on an e-scooter and crash no worries, we’ll cover you or burry you, if necessary, according to your wishes. Your loved ones don’t have to do anything except to grieve and mourn you. Your selfies will be amazing and something your friends will fondly remember you by. Please sign on the dotted line and how are you paying, EFTPOS or by Credit Card?

          PS the LOTR analogy is flawed IMO.

          • greywarshark 8.1.1.1.1

            Well it caught attention which may in some cases, be jaded. Also it was along the lines of someone deciding to do something risky with a concept that operators are experienced with the thing and know when it's too dangerous for sight-see-ers, and to pull back, and cancel. And compare that with someone who is on a mission and knows it is risky, but is prepared to go through with it even if death is the outcome.

            • In Vino 8.1.1.1.1.1

              The LOTR analogy is flawed for greater reason than it was Frodo, not Sam, who made the engagement?

          • KJT 8.1.1.1.2

            Do we really want that approach?

            Mountain climbing, ski-ing, driving, cycling, tramping, fishing, rugby and any other risky activity banned, or too expensive.

            What about working. Kills more people than volcanos.

            The fact is, we do tolerate a degree of risk in society.

            It is always a balance of risk and benefits, perceived or real.

            My last voyage on Spirit of New Zealand gave me the impression they had removed, even, the "perceived" risk to the extent the kids were getting, bored.

            Removing risk from school playgrounds has paradoxically, made Kids less agile and confident. Less fit and more injury prone.

            • Incognito 8.1.1.1.2.1

              It was sarcasm.

              I agree that it is about balance. However, regulations have a habit of mushrooming into a labyrinth of red tape. One size does not fit all so the rulebook gets thicker and thicker and drives people nuts. Compliance turns into madness and becomes a nightmare. Health & Safety at work is going that way, I’m afraid. The danger is that people will start ignoring stuff that they shouldn’t ignore. That they cut corners that can be very unforgiving. People are very good at justifying these behavioural shortcuts, they are also known as ‘common sense’. All risk management needs to take human nature (and stupidity) into account because that is usually the weakest link as in the least predictable factor. This is why manuals are written for idiots, e.g. do not dry your pet in the dryer or microwave and do not dry your hair while sitting in the bath.

    • Ad 8.2

      If we proposed that was the rule, you would need New Zealand to live without a tourism industry, or very high personal life and health insurance as a condition of entry.

  9. bwaghorn 9

    https://i.stuff.co.nz/business/118136081/gas-masks-given-to-whakaariwhite-island-tourists-little-more-than-props-says-expert

    I used to work on oil rigs and the mere mention of H2s gas used put ice in my veins. Do you think you average slack jawed tourist knows how nasty that stuff is .

    • KJT 9.1

      Ditto. The lethal ppm is totally scary.

      Mind you, a lot of the drill crew seemed blissfully unaware, of the chances of real hazards, also. The reason for the high pay.

      After a whole course, as marine crew, on what could go wrong, in so many different ways, , I made sure the lifeboats were working perfectly.

  10. RedLogix 10

    Risk is the total of three factors … the probability or risk of an adverse event, the exposure to it, and the consequences of it. A formal analysis will estimate each factor separately before calculating the total hazard .

    What I think went wrong here is that everyone involved thought that while the risk to any single visit to the island was very low, they failed to understand that by taking visitors there virtually every day they were increasing their business exposure to the hazard.

    On top of this it's plain that no-one properly understood the consequences of an unstable steam explosion like this. The operators were thinking in terms of a few rocks and mud being flung about along with some toxic gas … and they would have sufficient warning to get people to safety. They had underestimated the consequences as well.

    The bottom line is that if you are running an adventure business typically while the risk of death to any single visitor may be very low, the total hazard to your business is in the long run very high. Untangling these concepts isn't always obvious to many people.

    Here is the problem; as individuals we face low level hazards every day but we accept them as a necessary condition of life. An intelligent person will act to minimise them, but we also accept we can never, nor should, eliminate them. But operating a business that is exposed to a very high total hazard is a completely different context.

    This is why as an individual I would be quite happy to visit White Is/Whakaari on a good day, but I would be very reluctant to run a business that took people there every day.

    • Ad 10.1

      A visit to White Island is always going to require commercial operators to get you there. So it will never be just your individual choice. It will also be the choice of the operator to take you there.

      At very least the operators will get manslaughter charges against them. And if the charges don't stick – as they didn't in Pike River – then guaranteed we are in for a big law change.

      • RedLogix 10.1.1

        And if they are convicted on manslaughter charges it will take the adventure out of our tourism industry. If a plane crashes engineers get busy to find the root cause and make the plane and it’s operations safer. The correct course of action here is to research the shit out of this volcano so that future operators can closely monitor conditions and have advance warning of this kind of eruption. From my reading and understanding this will not be an easy task, but in principle I think it's doable.

        Just convicting people and passing more laws will certainly make people more risk averse. But avoiding risk is a losing game, while understanding it, confronting and managing it is the very stuff of all human progress.

        • Ad 10.1.1.1

          I don't agree.

          The first task of risk management is to avoid it where possible.

          The second task is to mitigate. 16 dead now through failure to either avoid or mitigate is a lot I'm sure you agree.

          Human progress is the stuff you stay alive for, not the stuff you collect Darwin awards for.

          The operators who pushed on despite the well-signalled risk from GNS should be in the frame.

          The research into the island and into similar sites is necessary, but only effective if there’s a binding process to implement its judgement, or we are in the same position we are in today. With 16 dead.

          As I noted in the post, legislative change for major fatality incidents is a pretty reasonable response.

          There will I think be a classification system be developed for all such activities. There will need to be the equivalent of a JSEA done for each category, and each instance. Some may well feel that annoying and red-tape-ish. We used to think that in the construction industry – but we had to change. I just remember how hard it was to see any accountability done to Mr Whittle the CE of Pike River.

          • RedLogix 10.1.1.1.1

            The first task of risk management is to avoid it where possible.

            Yes I agree, the first and most powerful layer of risk management is to ask if the task needs to be done at all … while still achieving the desired outcome.

            On a mine site for instance, operating the big dump trucks is inherently hazardous. There are many layers of controls in place to mitigate this. But the most powerful option, effectively the one you are advocating, would be to simply not operate the trucks … that indeed would totally eliminate the risk. But usually at the wider cost of shutting down the mine if no alternative means was available.

            This becomes a question then of cost vs benefit. In the case of White Is. many 10's thousands of people have had safe and beneficial visits over 30 years. One group of visitors have paid a very high cost. How we balance these against each other is an ancient question humans have been solving since forever. Some will place a greater weight on the costs, other on the benefits. And after a dialog of some form we determine a collective course of action.

            As a counter example, we accept the cost of many hundreds killed on our roads each year as a price we have to pay for the multitude of benefits we gain from an open transport system. At the same time we go to great lengths to minimise the costs with safer roads, cars and policies all the time. With time we may succeed in engineering the hazard to very close to zero.

            What we didn't do was simply ban all cars. We effectively tried that with the 'man walking in front with a red flag' rule; and very quickly we realised that was an overreaction.

            I understand however your point around JSEA’s. The tourism industry will certainly face more stringent controls around hazard analysis and mitigation. However in my long experience in heavy industry there remains a great deal of cynicism around current safety regimes. Most people find the whole process little more than employers covering their arses with paperwork and procedure … as a substitute for authentic training, experience and sound judgement.

            • KJT 10.1.1.1.1.1

              ISM on international shipping was initially conceived as a bottom up process to help people in being consistent and competent, and informed. At that level policies and procedures designed by well trained marine staff, increased the level of safety. And found out a few who were, actually, dangerous. Too large or complicated safety system, was a non compliance.

              Nowadays, it is usually a lawyer designed nightmare in arse covering, with many companies having whole bibles full of does and don'ts, checklists on checklists, often irrelevant to your ship.

              Whenever a poorly trained crew, somewhere, does something stupid, often because of fatigue and/or poor equipment, I must say, rather than their fault, there is a new regulation, policy, procedure and checklist.
              JSEA’S, and safety cases have also become somewhat of a flawed process. With the fact that a safety case being done, is considered to allow proceeding. I.e. “We’ve done the paperwork, so we are now, safe”. See the Deepwater Horizon enquiry.

        • McFlock 10.1.1.2

          I agree, RL.

          It's like bungee jumping: jumping off a bridge with a rubber band tired to your ankles is an inherently stupid activity. But it can be done safely if the operator takes care about weights, heights, outcrops, equipment condition, and procedures.

          GNS had already developed its procedures and had an in depth risk assessment every time a trip to the island was planned. We'll see if the tour operators had done the basics, or just tried to waiver-away their liabilities.

          • RedLogix 10.1.1.2.1

            Reflecting on what you are saying here is interesting. Arguably GNS could have in principle played a more active role in ensuring the tourism operators were better informed about the true nature of the hazard they faced.

            I personally worked with one of the better known vulcanologists many years back. (At one time I was tasked with rowing a small tinny out to the middle of Raumoko's Throat to drop a sensor package into it's depths. An unplanned swim would have been fatal. We would never be allowed to do such a thing these days … but interesting data we got.)

            Out of this modest background around volcanic areas I'm convinced this eruption was no surprise to at least a few senior people in GNS and various Geology Depts. It's worth asking why they did not engage more effectively with the tour operators.

            • McFlock 10.1.1.2.1.1

              It sounds like GNS did their thing and the operators did theirs, and never the twain did meet.

              It seems GNS didn't do their hazard assessment that week, but there was still a "level" posted. But maybe the operators didn't fully understand what the level meant to GNS, and even whether it was insufficient to plan trips there (as opposed to sail in the vicinity or just a general monitoring status).

              Maybe the GNS hazard assessment should be done for tour operators like a metservice weather report for pilots/sailors. But then that leads to funding issues (or as a colleague puts it when my unrelated workplace gets random requests: "who the fuck has time to do that – I'm already overloaded").

              As for your wee boat trip… rather you than me. Did you test to see if the boat would dissolve before you started off? 🙂

  11. Stuart Munro. 11

    "…you need a p license and there's a fair bit to getting and retaining one of those"

    All of which went for nought.

  12. SPC 12

    The coronial inquiry, Work Safe investigation and potential court action in the USA against the tourist ship operator (dependent on any promotion of onshore activity and related standing of waivers signed) will inform the nature of a Ministerial inquiry.

    Near everyone will probably expect the government to regulate that future tours could only be at a lower level of risk – one only. And government to impose some work and safety rules after the Work and Safety investigation (such as a number of accessible safe shelter places for later evacuation).

    A broader review of rules under which tourist operators operate and activities for tourists occur ….

    One thing to avoid is the P homes fiasco whereby safe buildings were taken out of the housing market.

    • McFlock 12.1

      The only reason regulations would need to change is if the law had been followed properly and yet the deaths should have been foreseeable and prevented. So people should be culpable, but legally they are not.

      If the investigations lead to prosecutions and convictions, it wasn't the regulations at fault.

  13. greywarshark 13

    Another side of the Whakaari Island story.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/the-detail/story/2018726637/the-beauty-and-the-menace-of-whakaari

    Ngāti Awa are guardians of Whakaari – the ‘angry volcano’ – and bought White Island Tours in 2017. The iwi is playing a part in the recovery of bodies on the island.

    Pouroto Ngaropo is an elder, cultural advisor and Whakatāne District Councillor. He thinks of Whakaari as a woman. “That’s the information that’s been handed down from generation to generation,” he says.

    “She is the main ancestor that connects us to an ancient world … she has her own personality. When there’s earthquakes, she’s dancing. When she’s having a stroppy mood, that’s when she erupts.”

    Whakaari is also a place local Māori fish, and gather mutton birds from.

    Ngaropo says in the future they need to work with GNS to be able to pre-empt and predict “with our knowledge, and with science knowledge”, to pre-warn and protect the community, tourists and anyone who accesses the island.

  14. esoteric pineapples 14

    I'm waiting for a motor home disaster to happen with one motorhome driving over a cliff and another 50 following it

  15. greywarshark 15

    One minutes silence at 2.11p.m. in the memory of the unfortunate sightseers. And the missing two, our sympathy and hope for their emergence in the sea and soon. There will be a Rahui there now I think.

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  • Government provides $2.2m to heritage buildings for quake strengthening
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  • Southern Waikato shovel ready projects get the green light
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  • Rakitū Island declared latest predator free island
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  • Funding to restore significant Māori sites in the Far North
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  • Big boost for Chatham Islands’ economy
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  • More initiatives to reduce energy hardship
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  • Investing in the tourism sector’s recovery
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  • Permits to be required for exporting hard-to-recycle plastic waste
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  • Growth in new building consents shows demand is still high
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