Easy Rider owner loses court case

22:42, Mar 18 2014
Gloria Davis
Gloria Davis in Invercargill District Court.

The owner of the Easy Rider has been found responsible for it going to sea when she knew no one on board held a skipper's certificate.

Eight people died after the Bluff fishing boat was struck by a rogue wave just after midnight on March 15, 2012, off Saddle Point on the northern tip of Stewart Island. Only one person, Dallas Reedy, survived.

In the Invercargill District Court today, Judge John Strettell also found Gloria Davis, the owner of the Easy Rider, failed to take all practicable steps to ensure no contractor or subcontractor was harmed while doing work on board the boat.

He also found that as a director of the company, Davis permitted the boat to be operated in a manner which caused unnecessary danger or risk to those on board.

The case was brought by Maritime New Zealand, and after a hearing that finished in January, Judge Strettell reserved his decision.

The court acknowledged it had sympathy for Davis, whose husband Rewai Karetai was the skipper, but said that issue would be dealt with at the sentencing.


No date for that has been set.

Davis, reacting to the decision this morning, said she had read the judge's comments and would make a statement later today.

"I was surprised and disappointed but feel I have stood and did everything I possibly could," she said.

Davis said her heart went out to the whanau and friends of the families who lost a who died in a Bluff house fire at the weekend where family had gathered to mark the second anniversary of the sinking.The woman died in a caravan on the property and others escaped from the burning house.

"In light of that this [the court's decision] comes secondary," she said.

To read the judge's reserved decision click here


The 11.6-metre fishing vessel was travelling towards the Titi Islands, where preparations for the annual muttonbirding season were about to start, when it was hit by the wave.

Reedy, 44, was found alive, clinging to a plastic petrol can 18 hours after the boat sank.

Four bodies were recovered: Shane Topi, 29, Boe Pikia- Gillies, 28, John Karetai, 58, and Peter Pekamu-Bloxham, 53.

Karetai, 47, Paul Fowler-Karetai, 40, David Fowler, 50, and Odin Karetai, 7, were never found.