The first day of a coronial inquest into the death of a man who was fatally crushed while working at a Port of Tauranga site has begun - more than five years later.
The man, whose name remains suppressed, was crushed between the rear of a swing loader trailer and a shipping container in Totara St on March 14, 2016. The Mount Maunganui site is owned by the port but leased to the man's employer Coda Operations Limited Partnership (Coda).
Today at Tauranga District Court, Coroner Matthew Bates addressed the man's tearful whānau and apologised for the delay in getting to this point.
"It's been a long time coming. It's in excess of five years since [the deceased] passed away. That's a long time. I can only apologise for the delay. I hope we can progress matters and bring some sense of closure to everyone but particularly whānau."
Two whānau members stood in the public gallery, at times holding each other, as a karakia was held before the inquest formally began.
The man's death prompted a Worksafe NZ investigation and criminal court case, which resulted in Coda being fined $52,500 and ordered to pay $110,000 compensation to the man's whānau.
Plant manufacturer and supplier Hammar New Zealand Limited was also fined $25,600 after previously admitting it failed to take all practicable steps to ensure the plant was designed, made and maintained so it was safe for its intended use.
WorkSafe NZ's investigation established none of the proximity sensor switches, which would have prevented the loader's lifting arms being operated unless manually activated were working due to wiring and installation faults.
As the worker activated the swing loader by remote control, a shipping container, which had been lifted up about 1.4m fell back towards the ground, dragging the swing loader with it, and lifted the left rear wheels off the ground.
The deceased tried to get out of the way but was crushed between the rear of the trailer as it tipped over an adjacent container.
In a victim impact statement, which was read to the court on August 3, 2017, the man's parents said they still struggled to understand why this accident happened.
"No parent should ever have to bury their child and our son's death has left a huge hole in our lives which can never be filled, and there will never be closure for us," they said.
"(He) was very much loved son and he is always in our thoughts and will never be forgotten," they said.
The inquest continues.