Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Watchdog pushes ahead in quad-bike death case

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

Safety regulators are trying to push ahead with court action against a now-collapsed adventure tourism company which was charged after an Australian woman suffered a fatal injury on one of its quad bike safaris.

Chelsea Callaghan suffered a serious head injury after coming off a quad bike near Port Waikato while on a Riverland Adventures tour in October 2012.

The 38-year-old from Melbourne was on life support for 10 days before she died.

Riverland Adventures was charged after the incident for an alleged breach of the Health and Safety in Employment Act. The case is being taken by Worksafe New Zealand and the maximum fine which can be imposed on conviction is $250,000.

Riverland Adventures has since collapsed and liquidators in their first report say the company cannot pay for a lawyer nor can it pay any "contingent claims that may arise".
One of the liquidators, Peri Finnigan, told the Herald today they are not consenting to the legal action continuing.


The Herald understands an application by Worksafe New Zealand for the legal action to continue is due to be argued in the High Court at Auckland next Friday.

Finnigan said liquidators were obliged to consider the views of creditors.

"The continuation of the proceedings will prejudice the creditors with admissible claims in the liquidation. The continuation of proceedings will reduce the pool of assets available. The company has minimal assets and is clearly insolvent," she said.


Finnigan said the Companies Act suggested unpaid fines and monetary penalties achieved a priority status ahead of the company's creditors.

"It is therefore not in the interests of the company creditors for a fine to be imposed against the company," she said.

In a report, issued last month, the liquidators estimates that liquidators can get just over $21,700 from the sale of the company's assets.

The company owes just over $8000 to Bank of New Zealand as a secured debt, and $9597 to trade creditors, the report says.

Shareholders of the firm and associated entities are owed a further $149,000.

Riverland Adventures' operator Percy Kukutai was originally facing a charge for manslaughter but this was withdrawn last November.

- NZ Herald

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