First court appearance for thirteen parties charged in relation to Whakaari/White Island eruption

Whakaari/White Island.
Whakaari/White Island. Photo credit: Getty

The thirteen parties charged in relation to the Whakaari/White Island eruption have appeared in court for the first time.

Ten parties and three individuals have been charged for failing to meet their obligations under the Health and Safety Act when they took tourists to the active volcano which erupted in December 2019, killing 22. 

The tourist companies facing charges are Whakaari Management Ltd, Volcanic Air Safaris Ltd, White Island Tours Ltd, Kahu New Zealand Ltd, Aerius Ltd, ID Tours Ltd, Tauranga Tourism Services Ltd and Inflite Charters Ltd. 

Also facing charges are GNS and the National Emergency Management Agency.

The three individuals are James, Peter and Andrew Buttle. The Buttle family owns the island, and all three men are directors of Whakaari Management Ltd - which is also charged. 

Under the WorkSafe charges each organisation faces a maximum fine of $1.5 million, and the individuals could be charged $300,000. 

The Buttle's are being charged for failing to exercise due diligence over the Health and Safety obligations over the company they have significant influence over.

All thirteen will all reappear in the Whakatane District Court on June 3 and 4.