Probe launched into port death

An investigation has been launched after a Wellington port worker was killed when he was crushed between a forklift and cargo.

Titahi Bay man Mark Samoa, 47, died while carrying out a warehouse packing operation at CentrePort.

Emergency services were called to the scene about 12.30am yesterday, but could not revive the father of three.

Maritime Union assistant secretary John Whiting, a workmate of Mr Samoa - who is a second generation port worker - said it was a tragic event for all the staff.

"To lose a workmate at any time is always painful. It's a tight-knit workforce down at the port and we always attempt to have solid relationships with each other.

"He was a brilliant mate, a comrade to all of us."

The union was offering support to Mr Samoa's workmates and family members and would assist CentrePort with counselling in the coming days.

"We have been down there from right after the event, offering personal support to all of the workers. It's tough for everybody."

A blessing was held last night at the site where Mr Samoa died, and was attended by many family members and those who were on the shift with him when he died.

CentrePort chief executive Blair O'Keeffe said Mr Samoa had worked at the port for nine years and was a very popular member of staff.

"Our primary concern is to provide support to his family and to staff who have been deeply affected by the loss of their close colleague."

As a mark of respect, all work was halted at the port yesterday while staff received counselling sessions. Mr O'Keeffe said work would most likely resume today.

An investigation into the death has been launched by CentrePort, Wellington police and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

A ministry spokesman said the investigation was still in the preliminary stages, and that a final report could be as far as six months away.

In May last year, father of five Cain Adams died when he fell through a ship's hatchway at Port Nelson.

In March 2006, forklift driver Repanga Taana, 49, died when his 74-tonne forklift toppled on to him and caught fire at the Port of Napier.

Following an extensive coroner's investigation, Mr Taana was cleared of all fault in his death and the port came to a compensation settlement with his family.

Contact Kerry McBride
Porirua reporter
Twitter: @kerry_mcbride

The Dominion Post