Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

New Zealand's White Island owners found guilty of breaching safety laws

When the volcano erupted in December 2019 there were 38 people from Ovation of the Seas on a day trip to the island
In the Auckland District Court on Tuesday Justice Evangelos Thomas found the owners of White Island, where a volcano erupted in December 2019 killing passengers on a shore excursion from Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, guilty of breaching workplace safety laws.

As reported here, 38 people from Ovation of the Seas were on a day trip to White Island, or Whakaari, 48km off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, when the volcano erupted. Many were killed and others suffered horrific burns.

'Astonishing failures'

Justice Thomas was critical of ‘astonishing failures’ by Whakaari Management Ltd, the company of White Island owners James, Andrew and Peter Buttle which licensed other companies to run tours.

The case is the largest action of its kind brought by New Zealand regulator WorkSafe New Zealand and the company faces fines of up to NZ$1.5m.

WorkSafe New Zealand had alleged 13 parties were negligent in their duty of care to visitors to the island.

WML was the last to receive a verdict after six pleaded guilty, while six more had their charges dismissed. 

Sentencing next year

Sentences will be passed in February.