A horse rider wants to spread awareness after her horse was euthanised because of an injury caused by a helicopter scare.
Christine Lowe had owned Kai, a 16-year-old Cleveland Bay, for three years.
"He was my only horse, my only child and he's been taken away from me."
On January 25 a helicopter subcontracted to Powerco flew over her and her husband Graham's .2 hectare property completing Light Detecting And Ranging (LiDAR) and Pole Top Photography (PTP) work.
"We had no alert about it. We went through the public notices on the website and we couldn't find anything. In the old days we'd get a flyer in the letterbox but we had nothing."
Christine says she initially didn't know why the helicopter was there.
"The paddock is between the railway and powerlines. At the time I didn't connect the helicopter and powerlines. They were flying right over the paddock. I called a local helicopter company and they told me they had subcontracted a helicopter to Powerco."
She says when she heard the noise she went to the paddock to check on Kai.
"The noise was deafening. I thought they were landing in the paddock. I rushed to Kai's paddock but at that point he had gone through the rail and disturbed the concrete wall underneath it. The helicopter was flying very low. I could see the pilot's face and headset. I was screaming at the helicopter to go away. It came back two or three times."
Christine called the vet to check Kai.
"He was lame. The vet checked his leg and put him on the strongest pain killer and anti-inflammatory medicine. In 2018 he had a chipped bone in his hoof, which he has recovered from. The vet checked to see if there was any link to the old injury and his lameness but he found none as it was further up the leg.
"Kai had gone lame because he had been spooked and injured himself trying to get away from the helicopter. The vet looked at me and shook his head and my heart just dropped."
Christine called Powerco on January 28. She says she is upset that Powerco offered to cover the injury cost but then revoked the offer.
"The lady on the phone was very upset. She was apologising and said Powerco would cover the injury cost. On January 30 she sent an email and it had a completely different tone. The email implied that Kai was already injured but that wasn't the case.
"What made me angry is the email included a list of things I have to do to protect their assets but what about us, what about Kai? I want this resolved."
Christine says her search to find the "perfect" horse took three years.
"I had looked for three years for the right horse and he ticked all the boxes. We just clicked. I purchased him so we could grow old together but that's been taken away from me."
On February 10 Kai was euthanised.
"We tried to get him pain-free but we had to make the call. He was in too much pain. It was too cruel to let him go on any longer."
Making the decision caused stress, she says.
"I ended up in hospital. I felt absolutely sick to my stomach. It took so long to find him and at my age you don't get that chance often. I want my horse back."
Christine says she wants to share her story so no one else goes through what she has.
"People need to be aware that this can happen. I'm wanting resolution and I'm wanting Powerco to do better so this doesn't happen to someone else."
Christine says Powerco contacted her again.
"I received an email from Powerco recently and they apologised for the injury caused to Kai. They said they had listened to the call and that compensation was not discussed but it was. They also said that I had mentioned Kai was already injured but he wasn't. For them to say they are sorry to hear it upset our injured horse is a slap in the face."
Christine says in their emailed response, Powerco said the call related primarily to lack of notification and that there should have been better communication about the helicopter fly-over.
"They said they understood it was a hard time and to let them know if I had different expectations following the call. I want my horse back. I know that's not possible so I want another horse that is Cleveland Bay approximately the same age and in good health."
Powerco's customer and communications strategy manager Oliver Vincent says the use of helicopters to carry out inspections of its network helps to ensure a safe and reliable power supply to its customers.
"We work hard to minimise the potential disruption to members of the public that could be caused by using helicopters for this work. We ensure Civil Aviation Authority regulations are strictly followed and notify customers about the helicopter flight path before we begin."
Oliver says Powerco alerted the public about the work through online advertising on their website and social media, an article in the daily paper and by communicating with local groups such as Federated Farmers, council and iwi.
"We always encourage people to contact us to discuss any concerns so that we can alter the flight plan timings if necessary. Despite our best efforts to let customers know about this work, we appreciate there are people who the message did not reach.
"We are currently in talks with a customer, who has unfortunately recently experienced the loss of a horse, to determine if a helicopter conducting work on behalf of Powerco directly contributed. As this discussion is considered ongoing, we are unable to provide detailed comments on the specifics of this case.
"It is disappointing whenever any incident occurs because of our work and we take public and animal welfare incidents seriously. We are continuing to investigate the incident and are committed to working with the concerned customer until we reach a resolution."
Due to privacy reasons Powerco was unable to answer direct questions about whether they had offered to pay for the horse's injury costs.