Whakaari/White Island trial: Owners talk of safety measures prior to eruption

Nine months after the eruption that killed 22 people on Whakaari White Island, the owners on Thursday maintained the warnings about the danger of an eruption were adequate.

James Buttle told WorkSafe investigators that requiring someone to explain the risk of a deadly eruption was like having to tell people when they drive into Christchurch or Wellington that there could be an earthquake.

Nine months after the eruption, investigators asked the Buttles why tourists weren't warned they risked death by stepping on an active volcano.

"Potentially you weren't coming back, has that been explained by the operators?" Worksafe investigators asked White Island owner Peter Buttle.

"It's hard to know cause I can't recall from my last trip with an operator how they explained it, but it's sort of underwritten in the risk of going to a volcano," Buttle responded.

Earlier in the trial, tourists who survived said they weren't given safety warnings before they landed.

"If you had understood there was a risk of an eruption of that volcano, would you have gone on the trip?" prosecutor Kirsty McDonald asked Whakaari survivor Lauren Urey.

"One hundred percent not," Urey responded, shaking her head side to side.

The investigators suggested the owners had a responsibility to ensure the message got through.

"You're suggesting that maybe it wasn't explained enough or fully or the consequence enough, it's very hard to judge because when you drive into Christchurch you're not explained that there could be an earthquake," owner James Buttle said.

Andrew Buttle told investigators it was well advertised the volcano was active.

"I don't think they ever hid the fact there was an active volcano and unfortunately, it was on that day it erupted."

But investigators suggested if tourists were paying to be taken to the island they'd expect appropriate warnings. 

"And given the information available before this explosion, I believe that they were, to our knowledge, they were getting the appropriate warnings," Peter said.

The Buttle brothers' interview continues on Friday after Thursday's hearing was abandoned due to a power outage.