Forestry foreman fined over death

By Katie Holland -

A forestry foreman who felled a tree that killed his friend has been fined $35,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $15,000.

Major Nelson, 26, pleaded guilty in the Rotorua District Court today to a charge under the Health and Safety in Employment Act that being an employee, he failed to take all practicable steps to prevent an action of his at work, namely felling a tree, from causing harm to Robert Ruri-Epapara.

Mr Ruri-Epapara, 23, was killed when he was struck on the head by the tree while working at Waione Forest, near Lake Rotoiti on March 26 last year.

Judge Chris McGuire said Nelson had failed to comply with the industry standard "two tree length" rule, in that no trees should be felled within two tree lengths of another worker.

He said Nelson made an attempt to ascertain where Mr Ruri-Epapara was by radioing other workers and relied on a vague response. However he could not see Mr Ruri-Epapara when he cut down the tree.

"This was a case of complacency. You thought you knew where this man was. You didn't."

The reparation will be split three ways between Mr Ruri-Epapara's partner, father and his mother/stepfather.

Nelson is a director and 40 per cent shareholder in Complete Logging Limited, which in January was fined $60,000 and ordered to pay reparation of $75,000 in relation to the same incident.

For more articles from this region, go to

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 22 Oct 2014 13:25:01 Processing Time: 570ms