The grieving family of a young mother killed in a sawmill accident plan to mount a legal challenge after a relation received the lion's share of $260,000 in court-ordered reparation.
Family say Anita McRae's only surviving son should have been awarded a bigger cut as he wrestles with the heartbreaking loss of his mother, sister and older brother.
McRae's mother Paddy Norman, 62, is now consulting lawyers and says she plans to challenge the payout through the courts.
"It's wrong, it's all wrong.
"I'm not happy. I will not rest until this is done."
McRae's anguished family is mourning the loss of three members after a series of unimaginable tragedies.
McRae, 36, died from chest crushing injuries when she was dragged into machinery in November 2018 at Kiwi Lumber's Wairarapa factory.
Her 15-year-old daughter Angel died in 2015 and McRae's oldest son Clevelyn died suddenly in February this year as the 21-year-old wrestled with the unbearable grief of losing both his sister and mother.
He was found dead the same day his mother's employer was due to appear in court in connection with her grisly death, his family say.
Son Dane is McRae's only surviving child. His mother never got to meet her two grandchildren.
Kiwi Lumber was fined $350,000 after pleading guilty in Masterton District Court following a WorkSafe prosecution.
The company was also ordered to pay reparation to McRae's family totalling $263,762.
However, Norman is angry that most of the money went to a relative - who has name suppression - and two associated children.
In a judgment released last week, Judge Barbara Morris awarded the relative and two associated children $75,000 in emotional harm and $139,622 in consequential losses to make up for McRae's lost earnings.
Meanwhile, McRae's surviving family were awarded just $43,000 between them in emotional harm - $10,000 of which went to her only living child, Dane.
The teenager also received $6140 in consequential losses.
The reparation order included $10,000 to Clevelyn's estate, for the benefit of his partner and only child, who he never met before his death.
Norman felt the reparation split was terribly unfair. Dane, who has his own young child, deserved more as he tried to rebuild his life following the triple tragedy.
She felt Clevelyn's child should also have received a bigger cut given the baby girl had lost both her father and grandmother.
"[The relative] got all that money and Anita's only son got thruppence," Norman said.
"It is not fair. I am going to challenge it."
In her decision, Judge Morris acknowledged the "palpable and enduring pain" suffered by McRae's family, noting reparation calculations could "never be exact".
"I have read through all the harrowing victim impact statements which speak to the trauma caused to this family. This was amplified by the loss of Miss McRae's son after her own death. There was undoubtedly much emotional harm to many.
"An attempt to quantify loss and grief is an unpalatable task and more so when asked to quantify the level of harm across a larger family. It can never be enough. It can never be exact. It is always going to be a token sum proffered as a small amount of atonement for the loss."
The Herald has sought comment from the relative.
The decision reveals new details about the accident that claimed McRae's life.
On the day of her death a log sorting machine suffered repeated faults and McRae had entered the conveyor belt area to fix the problem.
However she did not follow the company's safety protocol by using the approved "lockout" system.
Within minutes an operator who could not see McRae restarted the machine. She attempted to return to safety but was knocked over by a piece of timber and crushed by the machinery's sprockets.
The judge found Kiwi Lumber did have "detailed and laudable" safety protocols in place, but the machinery was not properly guarded to prevent serious injury or death.
The safety system at the time relied heavily on "perfect human compliance", the judge said.
"It relied on workers not being tired, stressed, not frustrated with repetitive faults nor having a sense of urgency to get the job done.
"There could have been no access to the machinery's moving parts while it was in motion. There would have been no accident. There would have been no death."
The decision also reveals that McRae had received a formal warning the year before her death for failing to lockout before entering the machine.
"She was told if she did that again, and that warning was still in effect at the time of the accident, she could be dismissed."
The judge gave Kiwi Lumber credit for its good character, remorse, lack of earlier prosecutions, early guilty plea, and cooperation with the Worksafe investigation.
Judge Morris thanked McRae's family for the dignity and patience.
Kiwi Lumber managing director Adam Gresham said the tragic accident had been deeply distressing.
The company accepted the WorkSafe investigation findings and had undertaken major safety upgrades and investment at the site in the last three years.
"The safety and wellbeing of our people is, and will always be, our number one priority."
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