The Accident Compensation Corporation has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) so injured people can go fishing, hunting and to the beach.
An Official Information Act (OIA) request from the Herald on Sunday, revealed ACC spent $326,291 (+ GST) on 18 ATVs over two years.
Of those, 13 were for recreational needs only, at a cost of $236,878 (+GST). Four were for a mix of recreational needs and vocational needs, at $76,370 (+GST). And just one was for vocational needs alone, at $13,043 (+GST).
"The examination of the 18 claims revealed recreational needs included access to the beach and wider community, return to preinjury activities such as fishing and hunting, participating in rural community events, and engaging with family and friends in line with pre-injury engagement as far as practicable," ACC said.
"Vocational needs variously included return to pre injury role, maintaining employment on family farm, and obtaining employment."
The highest ACC spend on a single client over the period was $35,437. That included the purchase of an ATV for about $26,000, plus modifications.
"The prime reason for ACC funding was to meet the client's recreational needs," ACC said.
In response to follow-up questions from the OIA response, ACC revealed it contributed to 6 ATVs from July 2015 to June 2016, and 12 ATVs from July 2016 to June 2017.
"A large proportion of these are purchased for clients who have sustained a spinal cord injury," an ACC spokesperson said.
"When considering a client's recreational or vocational needs, ACC needs to consider all mobility options to enable the client to return to pre-injury level of community, recreational and vocational activity.
"If being considered for recreational activities the ATV is always used for more than one recreational activity.
"If return to employment is identified as an appropriate outcome for a client but they require an ATV to sustain the employment then ACC can consider a contribution to the ATV or to modify an existing ATV."
If considering contributing to the purchase of an ATV, an assessor "is asked to identify the client's injury-related needs and the mobility options to meet the need".
"ACC then makes a contribution towards the most practicable option. Practicable includes considering the cost effectiveness of the recommended option. The client is then able to make a contribution if they want to consider an alternative make for model."
Approval for the ACC contributions are "required from a higher delegation as the ATV are not common list equipment".
Each year, ACC declines about 93,000 claims in the "big four" categories of decisions (claim cover, elective surgery, weekly compensation, and independence allowance/lump sum entitlements) plus a number of smaller categories (such as accidental death, social rehabilitation, treatment and vocational rehabilitation), an ACC spokesperson said.
ACC handles about two million new claims a year.