New Zealand Law Society - Government agencies involved in White Island investigations and assistance

Government agencies involved in White Island investigations and assistance

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WorkSafe New Zealand says it has opened a health and safety investigation into the harm and loss of life caused by the volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island on 9 December.

"As the workplace health and safety regulator and administrator of the Adventure Activities Regulations, WorkSafe will be investigating and considering all the relevant work health and safety issues surrounding this tragic event," it says.

The Health and Safety at Work (Adventure Activities) Regulations 2016 were made pursuant to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and came into force on 4 April 2016.

Photo of White Island

The primary effect of the regulations is to make it an offence for an adventure activity operator to provide or offer to provide an adventure activity to a participant unless the operator is registered to provide the activity or holds an exemption granted under the Act from the requirement to be registered.

The regulations also impose a duty on WorkSafe to develop and publish safety audit standards that specify standards or requirements that an adventure activity operator must comply with when providing adventure activities. Different safety audit standards may apply to different types of activities.

NZ Police

The New Zealand Police have stated they have commenced an investigation into the circumstances of the deaths and injuries on Whakaari/White Island.

A Police statement says the terms of reference will be developed in the coming days.

"At this time Police is investigating the death of the individuals on Whakaari/White Island on behalf of the Coroner," it says.

"To correct an earlier statement, it is too early to confirm whether there will also be a criminal investigation. The Police investigation on behalf of the Coroner will be carried out in parallel with a WorkSafe New Zealand investigation."

Immigration New Zealand

Immigration New Zealand has stated that it will be working to process visas as quickly as possible for families of those killed or injured in the eruption.

It says it will be providing a service around the clock to ensure that those families can come to New Zealand as soon as possible. Further information is available on special phone lines 0508 225 228 in New Zealand and 0064 9 952 1679 for the rest of the world.

Accident Compensation

ACC has provided information on how it provides coverage for people who are injured in New Zealand. It notes that everyone in New Zealand is covered by the scheme, including international visitors.