A woman whose back was broken on a speed boat in the Bay of Islands doesn't want the boat's owner, whose driving left another woman a paraplegic two years before, to drive passengers again.

Raewyn Russell has a permanent back injury after the boat ride and says she feels "cheated" out of her dreams for the future.

The Mack Attack boat was owned by Seafort Holdings Ltd, and run by its sole director and shareholder Richard Prentice. It is no longer owned by Prentice and the Herald has been unable to reach the company for comment.

Prentice and his company has been ordered to pay more than $93,000 in fines and reparations after the accident, which was the second time a passenger had been seriously injured on the Mack Attack.


The Northland man's launch master certificate was revoked in May 2016 after complaints about his driving.

However the certificate was reinstated last year, meaning he can legally drive pleasure boat trips again.

Russell was preparing to head away on holiday with her husband Craig Russell in October 2014 when she saw an advertisement for Mack Attack jet boat rides.

Thinking it would be a fun way to kick-start their holiday, the 60-year-old Havelock North resident booked a trip for the second day of their break in the north.

She said she didn't have any concerns about the boat ride before they took off. However she started to get a bit nervous mid-way through the ride, when waves began growing in size and strength.

"The waves just got bigger and bigger and he didn't slow down - he just kept going," Russell said.

"I looked at my husband and thought, 'jeez, this is a bit worse than I thought it would be'."

She recalls the moment when she looked down and realised the boat was aqua-planing and then the vessel dropped.

"And that's what got me."

Russell said she heard a crack and knew it was her back breaking.

"My husband put his hand up to stop the boat," she said, "but it took a while."

"The driver comes around and he says 'Oh, you'll be all right, you've just winded yourself'."

Despite her insistence that she couldn't stand up, Russell said Prentice didn't seem to believe her about the extent of her injuries.

"He sort of scratched his head and he said to my husband; 'Oh this is the first time this has happened in 15 years or something'."

After some discussion, Prentice said he would drive her to shore. On the way, however, he pulled into another bay and stopped.

"He came up to me and said in front of all the other passengers, 'this is where I throw the evidence over'."

Russell said she was not able to think or move through the extreme pain she was experiencing. Craig cradled her to prevent further movement as the boat moved towards the shore.

An ambulance eventually arrived from Matata and with a lot of medication, Russell was finally helped off the boat and taken to hospital.

Four years on, Russell still suffered back pain and said she could not stand for long.

She went through months of physiotherapy and had to give up her career as a manager and travelling salesperson.

A Maritime New Zealand report into the incident said Russell was taken to Bay of Islands Hospital and found to have a fracture in her eleventh thoracic vertebrae.

Seafort and Prentice were ordered to pay $32,630 in reparation and the company was fined another $55,000.

Prentice was fined a further $5500 for failing to take practical steps to help keep passengers safe.

Russell said she was pleased Prentice has been fined but wanted to see the end of Mack Attack boat rides.

"I'd hate for him to do this to anyone else," she said.

"He tipped my life upside down."

The Herald has not been able to reach Prentice for comment about the incident.

Seafort Holdings was fined $90,000 following a similar incident back in 2012 when a passenger was left a paraplegic after a rough trip in the Bay of Islands.

And company also ran into issues in 2013 when Mack Attack was involved in a near-miss incident with a ferry.

The jet boat failed to give way to a ferry in Paihia and cut across the bow of the Bay Belle ferry.

According to an appeal judgement last September, Richard Prentice sold his Mack Attack boat last year at a "considerable loss".

In the same appeal judgement Prentice's commercial skippers licence was reinstated, after it was revoked early in 2016.