Kayaker death prompts call for forum

By Kyra Dawson -
Louise Jull drowned while kayaking on the Kaituna River. Photo / Supplied
Louise Jull drowned while kayaking on the Kaituna River. Photo / Supplied

A forum for users of the Kaituna River to discuss safety issues has been recommended following the death of local teacher and kayaker Louise Jull.

Rotorua coroner Wallace Bain released his findings into the death of the 26-year-old yesterday.

She drowned on March 11, last year.

Ms Jull, a physical education teacher at Western Heights High School, was part of a group of three kayakers who were downstream of the Trout Pool, when she was became separated from her companions about 7pm near Okere Falls.

Police were notified of Ms Jull's disappearance after her companions noticed she was missing from her kayak.

Her body was found about 10am the next day by rafters and police searching in the area where she was last seen.

The findings stated Ms Jull was found with her spray skirt caught on a branch which was protruding from a submerged log.

During the inquest into her death, Ms Jull's father, Adrian, told the court his daughter was aware of the hazards presented by logs and had in the past successfully negotiated the section.

He asked the coroner to consider a range of recommendations around safety and access to the river and encouraged exploring the removal of logs from the river. He said stopping kayaks using the area would be an "unwanted outcome" of her death.

Sister Isobelle said Ms Jull "didn't kayak because of the chance of something happening, she kayaked because it was what living and life meant to her".

"If a legacy of this tragic accident is that lessons can be learned and better outcomes occur for other paddlers then that too is a comfort to our memory of Louise."

Mr Bain recommended there be a forum held for all interested people and users of the Kaituna River, as well as those involved in extreme sports.

He recommended this could be organised by Environment Bay of Plenty in liaison with White Water New Zealand.

He also said in his findings that as long as it involved the Kaituna River, it should involve the landowners and the loggers, as well as those involved in granting permits for logging.

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