December 11, 2019
White Island Tours chair defends safety steps
The chair of Ngāti Awa-owned White Island Tours says the threat of a criminal investigation into the deaths of guides and tourists in Monday’s eruption was not helpful.
Deputy Police Commissioner John Tims told media on Tuesday afternoon there would be a criminal investigation, only for police to walk back the statement hours later to say they would wait for the result of investigations by the coroner and WorkSafe NZ.
Paul Quinn says the company’s main focus is still on the welfare of those caught up in the eruption.
He says health and safety is always the company’s top priority when conducting tours, using procedures developed over 30 years of conducting tours to Whakaari.
It is in constant contact with GNS Science about the threat level on the island, which the week before the eruption had been level 2.
"We stand by the procedures we have and we are still in the hands of the emergency and recovery unit anyway so we are working with them in the meantime and focusing on supporting our staff and those in hospital," Mr Quinn says..
Two guides, Tipene Maangi and Hayden Marshall-Inman, are still unaccounted for.
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