An award-winning Rotorua tourism company has been ordered to pay more than $62,000 to a former employee, but is challenging the sum in the Employment Court.

Shaun Isaac worked intermittently for Adventure Playground Rotorua Ltd between 2013 and 2017.

In a new Employment Relations Authority determination, the business has been ordered to pay $32,303.50 in unpaid holiday pay and costs, on top of $29,897.74 in unpaid wages and penalties awarded in a previous determination in June.

However, the authority's chief James Crichton noted his first determination was already being challenged in the Employment Court, and his second determination could also be included in that.


Adventure Playground has offered horse riding, quad bike riding, skeet shooting and riding side-by-side all-terrain buggies in Rotorua since mid-2012, and is based on State Highway 5, Ngongotahā.

It won the Attractions Business Award at the 2017 Rotorua Business Awards.

The latest determination from Crichton ordered Adventure Playground to pay Isaac $16,303.50 in holiday pay owed, and another $16,000 in costs, "being $8000 in accordance with the daily tariff that usually applies ... and an uplift of a like amount to reflect the behaviour of the respondent [Adventure Playground]".

"I made it clear to the parties at the aborted hearing in December 2018 that the failure of the respondent to be ready to proceed, having not filed any evidence on the timetable I set, would sound in costs."

He said Isaac had to recalculate "each and every hour in his work life" because of the lack of records kept by the tourism business.

"He was put to considerable cost".

Crichton said Adventure Playground's "absence of submissions" meant the determination was written "literally at the last minute".

"I can wait no longer," wrote Crichton on August 19, before he finished his role as chief of the authority on August 21.


He said any "deficits" in his latest determination, because of the lack of submissions from the business, could be dealt with in the Employment Court proceedings.

In the June determination, Crichton said Adventure Playground's lack of robust record-keeping made it "incredibly difficult for an outside third party (such as an authority member) to reach conclusions which were sympathetic".

The business breached the law by destroying some timesheets and Crichton said it "failed absolutely to maintain proper wage and time records".

"It cannot be that small business owners do not have access to information which would assist them to come to grips with their obligations."

He said the company was its "own worst enemy".

Crichton chose to rely on Isaac's recalculations.

However, he rejected Isaac's claim that he was unjustifiably dismissed.

The business said there were "occasional difficulties with Mr Isaac driving while intoxicated" but it was supportive of him during these lapses.

The business said it also had to regularly speak to Isaac "about his scruffy presentation and smoking on the job" but Isaac denied this.

Isaac said he tried to resign on two occasions because his employer, managing director Steve Roberts, "treated him in an off-hand and dismissive fashion and was frequently rude to him" but Roberts said he did not behave like that.

Isaac said he was "treated like s***".

Adventure Playground said Isaac's driving caused $20,000 in damage to a Land Rover but Crichton said it was unclear whether this was the case, or if a mechanical fault was the cause.

The business also alleged Isaac stole cash from the till, and deliberately failed to properly install a security camera to cover this up, but Crichton said there was no evidence to this claim.