'Tragedy could have been prevented'
The Easy Rider tragedy in 2012 could have been prevented with basic seamanship and safe boating practices, the Invercargill District Court has been told.
The defended hearing for Easy Rider owner Gloria Davis started before Judge John Strettell in the Invercargill District Court yesterday
Davis, the widow of Easy Rider skipper Rewai Karetai, and director of AZ1 Enterprises Ltd, faces three charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and two under the Maritime Transport Act.
AZ1 Enterprises Ltd also faces five charges.
Davis has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is representing herself, assisted by Jeff Walker and Jodie Harvey.
More than 25 witnesses are expected to be called.
Maritime New Zealand prosecutor Brent Stanaway said in his opening address that the Easy Rider capsized while sailing from Bluff to the Muttonbird Islands with nine people on board on March 15, 2012.
One person, Dallas Reedy, survived. No-one on board held a skipper's certificate and Davis did not inquire whether anyone on board held the qualification, Mr Stanaway said.
Davis knew her husband did not hold a skipper's certificate, he said.
The boat had too many people on board and was not entitled to carry passengers, he said.
The weather conditions were rough, there was a lack of route planning and the loading of the boat, with significant weight on the deck, compromised the vessel's stability.
Davis knew at least six passengers would be on board, that the boat was heavily laden and was responsible for establishing and maintaining procedures concerning safety, he said.
''Sadly this case has all the characteristics of a typical New Zealand boating tragedy, which basic seamanship and an adherence to safe boating practices would have prevented.''
Davis did not make an opening statement yesterday.Prosecution witness Maritime NZ domestic commercial operations manager Arthur Jobard told the court Mr Karetai had deckhand qualifications but did not hold a certificate to command a commercial boat.
The Easy Rider was also not allowed to carry any passengers, he said.
Davis is expected to cross-examine Mr Jobard this morning.
Nine people were on the Easy Rider when it sank - skipper William Rewai Desmond Karetai, known as Rewai, 47; Shane Ronald Topi, 29; Peter Glen Pekamu-Bloxham, 53; Boe Taikawa Gillies, 28; John Henry Karetai, 58; Paul Jason Fowler-Karetai, 40; Odin Nirvana Karetai, 6; David George Fowler, 50; and sole survivor Dallas Reedy.
The charges Gloria Davis faces: That being a director of AZ1 Enterprises Ltd, she acquiesced or participated in the failure of the employer company to ensure no action or inaction of any employee while at work harmed any other person on the Easy Rider; that as director of AZ1 Enterprises, she acquiesced or participated in the failure of the company to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of its employees while at work on the Easy Rider; and that as a director she acquiesced or participated in the failure of the company, as principal, to take all practicable steps to ensure that no contractor or subcontractor was harmed while doing work on the boat that he was engaged to do.
Davis is also charged that she knew that a master holding a skipper's certificate was required before the boat could be lawfully operated, and that the certificate was not held and that she caused or permitted the boat to be run in a way that caused unnecessary danger or risk to persons aboard.
AZ1 Enterprises Ltd faces similar charges.
The Southland Times