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Ports of Auckland death: Union wants national inquiry, Mayor says 'it is a tragedy'

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 Apr 2022, 2:27pm

Ports of Auckland death: Union wants national inquiry, Mayor says 'it is a tragedy'

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 Apr 2022, 2:27pm

The union representing port workers wants a national inquiry into port safety following the death of a worker this morning at Ports of Auckland. 

The man died in a fall from height around 9.20am. He was employed by Wallace Investments, a private stevedoring company. 

Maritime Union of New Zealand national secretary Craig Harrison said the man's death would be devastating for his family and workmates. 

He said the tragedy reinforced the dangers faced by port workers every day throughout New Zealand. 

The union understood the man had fallen while working on the container ship Capitaine Tasman, which is currently flying a Singaporean flag. 

Further details were yet to be confirmed. 

Maritime New Zealand is in charge of the inquiry and is still at the scene along with police. 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said it wouldn't be appropriate to provide detailed comment on this recent incident at the Ports of Auckland until the investigation now under way has been completed. 

"Our thoughts and sympathy are with the family and friends of the Wallace Investments employee who died this morning at Ports of Auckland," Goff said in a written statement this afternoon. 

"It is a tragedy not only for the person's family but also for those who worked with them. 

"A full investigation into the cause of this tragedy will be carried out by the appropriate authority." 

Goff commissioned an independent review into health safety at the port that was delivered in March last year which found systemic problems with health and safety at the council-owned business. 

The man is understood to have fallen from height while working on a Singaporean-flagged container ship, the Capitaine Tasman. Photo / Dean Purcell 

Wallace Investments general manager Felix von Aarst earlier said the company was devastated at the man's death. 

"Our immediate thoughts are with family and friends of the deceased." 

The company would undertake its own investigation and would co-operate fully with police and Maritime NZ. 

Harrison said the union was also willing to be involved in the investigation of the incident. 

And it wanted a national inquiry into port safety following a number of deaths and injuries in New Zealand ports in recent years. 

Ports of Auckland has already undergone the independent health and safety review following the deaths of three other men since 2017. 

They were Palaamo Kalati, 31, a stevedore who was crushed to death by a container in 2020; Laboom Midnight Dyer, 23, who died in 2018 after a straddle carrier he was driving tipped over; and Leslie Gelberger, 45, who was struck and killed by a Ports of Auckland pilot boat in 2017 while he was ocean swimming. 

The review, published in March last year, found there were systemic problems with health and safety. 

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