Bullied to death, widow claims

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 14:41 18/08/2014

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The wife of a science educator believes her husband was bullied and put under extreme pressure at his job at the Waikato Museum, prior to the man taking his own life over a year ago.

At the Hamilton Coroners Court, an inquest into Dr Raymond Eric Mayes heard he had worked at the museum - operated by the Hamilton City Council - for 12 years prior to his death on Friday, June 21, 2013.

Dr Mayes' wife, Julie, told Coroner Wallace Bain that the ever-increasing pressures from work were key factors in his death.

Senior Constable Garry Paton earlier told the inquest that police received a call  at 2.10am on the day of Mayes' death alerting them to the fact that a man's body had been found near Waikato River. 

They had also found his car keys and a suicide note in his pocket.

Mayes' wife, Julie, was confused by the note he left, stating its contents were out of character.

In her evidence, Julie Mayes said her husband was initially hired to work in the Excite centre which operated separately to the Waikato Museum. However, it was eventually merged with the museum.

She was critical of the council's move to join to the two operations. 

The council then made further restructures, with several positions being dissolved and key staff leaving or being made redundant. Some of those positions were not replaced.

It meant her husband lost key staff and he was required to do more work with fewer resources.

In the end he was operating by himself as the sole educator.

Mayes said the museum's new director, Cherie Meecham, had an abrupt manner. Mayes said her husband felt ''under extreme pressure and frustration'' with the working environment.

The environment, in the end, had become ''more toxic as time went by''.

''Staff left faster than they could be replaced,'' she said. She'd known her husband for more than half her life after meeting him in Australia in 1982.

Former museum colleague Moana Davey agreed with Julie Mayes' evidence, and said the museum had been a challenging place to work. Davey said making Mayes take on all educator roles - Tikanga Maori specifically - would have put a lot of pressure on him.

The inquest is due to wrap up tomorrow.

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