Statement from Paul Quinn, Chairman of White Island Tours Limited
On 9 December, 2019 Whakaari/White Island erupted claiming the lives of 22 people and causing serious injuries to a further 22. At the time we expressed our heartfelt condolences to the families in New Zealand and abroad that lost their loved ones and we continue to include them in our prayers. Similarly to the survivors we continue to offer our love and support.
On the first anniversary of this tragic day we will come together as a community to mourn the victims and pay our respects.
Following the tragedy WorkSafe, New Zealand’s health and safety regulator, opened an investigation into issues arising from tours to Whakaari. This investigation has now concluded with details published on the WorkSafe website.
White Island Tours Ltd has been charged with two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act. No employees or directors of the company have been charged. As the legal process is ongoing we will not be making any further comment at this time.
For any media enquiries, please contact Bianca Ruakere on 021 453 189
Update on plans for Whakaari He Rā Maumahara Anniversary
As we move towards the first anniversary of the Whakaari eruption, plans are well underway for the remembrance event being hosted by Ngāti Awa at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae in Whakatāne.
Although the programme is yet to be finalised we can confirm that the event will take place from 1pm on Wednesday 9th December, 2020 at the Mataatua Wharenui. A minute’s silence will be observed at 2.11pm and the event will conclude around 2.30pm.
The ceremony will be a small-scale gathering for families most affected by the tragedy, invited representatives of emergency responder groups and envoys of overseas families unable to travel.
Level 2 Covid restrictions will be observed on the Marae as a precautionary measure to protect our kaumatua and the immune compromised. The event will be televised by Māori Television and livestreamed via the internet in New Zealand and abroad to include those who would like to observe the anniversary.
A public event supported by Whakatāne District Council will take place at the Mataatua Reserve from 11.30am. This is for anyone who would like to pay their respects to the lost and injured and take time to reflect. A large screen will livestream the ceremony happening inside the Wharenui from 1pm. We encourage anyone attending to bring their own refreshments and as this is a family-friendly event we respectfully ask that people do not bring alcohol. More details of the public gathering will be shared in due course.
We are also encouraging organisations and community groups to take the opportunity to gather in whanaungatanga in their own ‘hubs’ to view the broadcast. More information will be published about these locations later this month.
Ngāti Awa plan to host a larger and more inclusive event at a future date when international borders are open and affected overseas families will be able to join us.
Associate Professor Maria Bargh (Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa) has been presented the Puāwaitanga Award by Royal Society Te Apārangi for making a distinctive contribution to Te Ao Māori through her internationally recognised research on political economy and environment.
Te Puāwaitanga Award: Te Puāwaitanga is awarded biannually in recognition of research that has made an eminent and distinctive contribution to Te Ao Māori and indigenous knowledge.
Marama Rose Cook of Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi receives this award for Māori and Pasifika social science research, supporting her Master’s degree project: ‘Ngā Ewe Whakawhenua: A Collation of Vital Voices – a Ngāti Awa Perspective’.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa welcomes eleven new staff today at Te Mānuka Tūtahi Marae. The new staff are a Programme Manager for new projects, and ten staff employed in Korehāhā Whakahau, the first Iwi led Predator Free 2050 project in Aotearoa.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Manahautū Leonie Simpson says “These new positions are our commitment to social, cultural and economic outcomes for Ngāti Awa whānau and the Iwi. The Programme Manager will be responsible for leading our new projects associated with our Provincial Growth Fund projects, and the Korehāhā Whakahau staff will eradicate possums from 4700ha of land within the Ngāti Awa rohe including Whakatāne, Ōhope, and Ōhiwa Harbour”.
Programme Manager, Alieta Waitoa joins Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa to lead a small project team dedicated to delivering a range of new Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa projects funded by the Provincial Growth Fund, including Te Ara Mahi (Workforce Development and a new Technical Training Centre), Army Hall Redevelopment, Water ways protection, and our Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme. Alieta was previously the National Procurement Manager at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa based in Te Awamutu.
The Korehāhā Whakahau staff have either been previously unemployed or lost their jobs through the impacts of Covid-19 and are part of the Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa Iwi workforce programme. This programme is building transferable skills, focussed on our values and aspirations. For Korehāhā Whakahau, this is practically implementing kaitiakitanga in our rohe, employing whānau, and growing our collective Iwi capacity and capability. Korehāhā Whakahau will use new trap technology without the use of any toxins.
Korehāhā Whakahau Kaiarahi Simon Harris says “Receiving this job has made my manawa so happy. Hapū of Ngāti Awa have been protecting our whenua as kaitiaki nō muri mai anō; this is a continuation of that work and I am extremely privileged to be paid to be an active kaitiaki”.
Korehāhā Whakahau is funded through Predator Free and Kaimahi for Nature and has created 16 new jobs in total. New staff are descendants of Ngai Taiwhakaea, Ngai Te Rangihouhiri, Ngāti Hokopū, Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāti Hāmua, Ngai Tamaoki, Ngai Tamapare, Te Pahipoto, Ngāi Tamawera, Ngā Maihi, Ngāti Rangataua, Warahoe, Wharepaia and Ngāti Hikakino.