Hamilton council to pay $80k to Kudeweh family over tiger attack

The Hamilton City Council has agreed to pay another $80,000 to the family of Samantha Kudeweh, above, after she was killed by a tiger at Hamilton Zoo last year. Photo / Supplied
The Hamilton City Council has agreed to pay another $80,000 to the family of Samantha Kudeweh, above, after she was killed by a tiger at Hamilton Zoo last year. Photo / Supplied

Richard Kudeweh is thankful to Hamilton City Council for the additional $80,000 payment to his family, but says no amount of money will bring his beloved wife home.

The Hamilton City Council this morning confirmed it will pay the $80,000 to the family after Samantha Kudeweh was killed by tiger Oz in his enclosure at Hamilton Zoo in September last year.

The council was sentenced for its part in her death in the Hamilton District Court two weeks ago, and Judge Denise Clarke said a $100,000 emotional harm payment was appropriate. But she waived it, noting the council had already made voluntary payments totalling $116,000.

She imposed a $38,250 fine and ordered $10,000 reparation to the couple's children.

However, after sentencing, Kudeweh called out the council about the $116,000 payments, saying many had not been paid.

Richard Kudeweh says he and his family appreciate the $80,000 payment that was granted by the Hamilton City Council at its meeting yesterday. Photo / Belinda Feek
Richard Kudeweh says he and his family appreciate the $80,000 payment that was granted by the Hamilton City Council at its meeting yesterday. Photo / Belinda Feek

The schedule of payments the council provided the court included $442 spent on catering for the zoo blessing and more than $13,000 towards a large funeral service at Hamilton Gardens.

At a meeting last week councillor Gordon Chesterman failed in his bid to give an additional $80,000 to a trust for the Kudeweh children, Billy, 10, and Sage, 4.

The idea was re-floated at yesterday's full council meeting and the council today confirmed it had been passed during a public-excluded section of the meeting.

This week, Kudeweh said the extra $80,000 would set the children up for the future.

Speaking from Australia this afternoon, Kudeweh told the Herald he was thankful to councillors who took it upon themselves to suggest the money be paid.

"There's been some councillors out there who have been paying close attention to the [court] outcome and haven't really felt that the outcomes have been correct.

"I'm appreciative of not so much the money but the people standing up because there was an award made by the court and unfortunately, to be perfectly frank, those decisions made by the court were made by information that was either misleading or was actually completely incorrect.

"Whether that's the fault of the lawyers or whatever, but the judge made a very bad call."

However, he said no amount of money would bring his wife back.

"I've lost so much, I've lost a hell of a lot more than 80,000 bucks ... I am appreciative. There's families out there that $80,000 means the world to, $20,000 does, but I'm in a different scenario ... in my life it's less significant than someone else's life."

The council said it would not be making any further comment about the payment.

- NZ Herald

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