An inquest into the forestry death of 19-year-old Eramiha Pairama has begun at Te Uru Taumatua in Taneatua.

The forestry worker was killed in January 2013 when he was struck by a tree while working near Whakatane.

Coroner Wallace Bain is seated in front of a priceless Colin McCahon painting that stretches over a wall in Tuhoe's "living building".

Eramiha Pairama. PHOTO/FILE
Eramiha Pairama. PHOTO/FILE

Mr Pairama's mother Selina Eruera is supported by whanau and the Council of Trade Union's Helen Kelly. Also in attendance are Maryanne Butler-Findlay who lost her husband Charles Findlay in a forestry accident in July, 2013, and Donna McMurtrie, whose husband David McMurtrie was killed near Opotiki in June 2012.


First to give evidence was Edgecumbe police Senior Constable Michael Lawton.

Mr Lawton told the court Mr Pairama had been working for Harper Logging for three years. He was considered an experienced breaker-outer.

On January 11, 2013, Mr Pairama had attached approximately 50 stems as part of his job in a forestry block in Sisam's Valley.

He attached what was to be the second to last log of the day and signalled to his hauler driver to pull it up.

The log collided with a stump and snapped, striking Mr Pairama in the face and chest.

The hauler operator realised something was not right and went to find Mr Pairama.

When he reached him, Mr Pairama was displaying signs of of internal injuries. He subsequently died of those injuries.

The inquest is continuing.