The second quad bike death at a farm in the space of five years has prompted a coroner to call for mandatory safety standards to be introduced in New Zealand.

On May 3, 2015, farm assistant Kaye Marie Blance was found dead underneath an overturned quad bike on the Westport farm where she worked.

Worksafe determined there was no mechanical fault involved in Blance's death.

The crash has prompted Wellington-based Coroner Brigitte Windley to today call for a cross-sector working party that considers introduction of a mandatory safety standard.


This follows an earlier call she made in 2017 for agencies to consider whether there was a case for roll-over protection devices to be made mandatory on quad bikes and subsidised rider training.

Figures from the coronial service showed 99 people had been killed in quad bike incidents since 2007, with seven in 2018 alone.

Blance had worked at the Tram Road Dairy Unit for about six months prior to her death and had sufficient basic quad bike training, the coroner said.

The quad bike she was riding overturned in a creek-bed on the farm as she was checking for leaks in an irrigator.

In a report released today, the coroner determined she became trapped under the bike, which weighed almost 300kg, and suffocated.

Her death followed the death of Renee McNelis at the same farm in November 2010. She died when the spreader-trailer she was driving flipped and caused the quad bike to roll on top of her.

An investigation into Blance's death also found a quad bike had to be pulled out of the same culvert a month earlier when the handbrake failed as another employee was driving between paddocks.

Experts who gave advice to the coroner said it appeared long reeds hid the side of the culvert and Blance misjudged where the edge was. A post in the middle of the creek crossing made the passable area only slightly wider than the quad bike.


Landcorp, the company which owned the farm and is now known as Pāmu had made a number of changes since Blance's death, the coroner heard.

The Farm Angel GPS monitoring system which was being trialled at the time, but was not fitted to the bike Blance was using, had been installed on all quad bikes. The device showed where the vehicle was, even if there was no reception in the area, and sounded an alert if a roll-over was detected.

The company had also reduced its fleet of quad bikes where possible and replaced them with more side-by-side vehicles and motorbikes.

Roll-over protection systems had also been fitted to all quad bikes, although the coroner could not determine if that would have benefited Blance, and all waterways on its dairy farms had been fenced. The culvert where the accident happened had been closed off.

Pāmu head of communications Simon King said the company wanted to again express their sympathy to the family and described her death as a tragedy.

The company accepted the coroner's findings, he said, noting that the number of vehicle-related incidents had reduced but remained an ongoing concern for the company and many farmers.

"We would welcome participation in the cross sector group suggested by the Coroner, and sharing our learners from Kaye's death, to make life on farm safer for others."

In the finding into the death of Blance, Windley recommended WorkSafe NZ, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ACC, Federated Farmers and other relevant industry bodies establish a working party to collectively review work undertaken in Australia and consider whether recent recommendations to the Australian Government could be implemented in New Zealand.

"The risk of harm associated with quad bike use has been well documented and coroners
have for many years made recommendations aimed at reducing preventable quad bike-related deaths," Coroner Windley said.

"It's frustrating that New Zealanders continue to die unnecessarily in quad bike accidents while centralised efforts to improve quad bike safety lag behind other countries.

"I understand there is no simple or singular fix. A multi-faceted approach involving accessible rider education and training, use of safety equipment, as well as engineering improvements is necessary to achieve any real and sustained reduction in preventable quad bike-related serious injuries and deaths in New Zealand."

Her plea followed calls for more safety features by Deputy Coroner Brandt Shortland after he investigated five quad bike deaths in 2013 and the recommendations she made in 2017 in relation to a 2014 death she investigated.

In her findings, Windley said individual companies and employers should not be the ones shouldering responsibility for quad bike risk minimisation.

"New Zealand government agencies and industry bodies must provide leadership in this space, and actively look for and consider options and innovations that have the potential to enhance quad bike safety at a national level."

Windley said it was good to see WorkSafe, MBIE, ACC and Federated Farmers working together to make it safer by using crush protection devices and considering following Australia's lead.