A Gisborne harbour pilot was "justifiably" sacked for not being on two large ships he was supposed to guide in-and-out of port.

This included the giant cruise liner, Emerald Princess, capable of carrying about 3000 passengers, which was forced to navigate out of Poverty Bay last February without a pilot on board.

Then in March, a large fishing boat attempted to berth without the man onboard and crashed into a building at Gisborne's port.

The collision sent workers scrambling and jumping over fences to avoid being hit by debris.


The pilot, Captain Paul Hines, was suspended from his job with Eastland Port following the incident and later sacked.

He appealed his sacking to the Employment Relations Authority, which, this month, rejected his appeal and ruled the dismissal justified.

ERA member Tania Tetitaha said Captain Hines had failed to fulfil his obligations under Maritime Rules, which required a pilot to be on large vessels for safety reasons.

While there could be exceptions to this rule, none applied in Hines' case, she said.

Tetitaha said she was not satisfied claims by Hines were true, when he said he had made an earlier agreement with the captain of the Emerald Princess' captain, giving the vessel permission to enter port without a pilot.

Instead investigators had found crew on the cruise ship crew had made repeated attempts to contact Hines on the day they left, before being forced to sail without him, she said.

In the case of the 671 tonne fishing boat, Seamount Explorer, which smashed into port buildings, Hines had claimed he oversaw the vessel's entrance into port by watching it from the shore on Kaiti Beach Road.

However, Eastland Port obtained surveillance footage of the area showing Hines was not at the site at the time, Tetitaha's report found.