Whakaari Management Limited Found Guilty in Landmark Verdict Over 2019 White Island Volcanic Eruption.

October 31, 2023

In a groundbreaking decision, a New Zealand court has declared Whakaari Management Limited (WML), the company responsible for overseeing White Island, guilty of violating workplace safety laws in connection with the catastrophic volcanic eruption that occurred in 2019. The eruption claimed the lives of 22 individuals and caused numerous injuries, leaving a lasting impact on the victims and their families.

The court found WML guilty on one charge of failing to minimize the risk to visitors. The company neglected to conduct a risk assessment, despite being aware of a previous eruption three years prior. However, a second charge related to ensuring the safety of those working on the island was dismissed.

This ruling carries immense significance, resonating far beyond the borders of New Zealand. It underscores the paramount importance of workplace safety, emphasizing the responsibility that companies bear in ensuring the well-being of both employees and visitors. The verdict serves as a stern reminder that corporations must take all necessary precautions to prevent tragic incidents and prioritize the safety of individuals in their care.

The sentencing for the case is scheduled for February, with WML and involved parties facing a maximum fine of NZ$1.5 million (£720,000). The outcome of this ruling raises pertinent questions about the potential implications it might have on the tourism industry in New Zealand and, by extension, in other countries where similar natural attractions are prevalent.

In conclusion, this verdict represents a significant step towards justice for the victims of the 2019 White Island volcanic eruption. Beyond its immediate legal ramifications, the ruling sends a powerful message to companies worldwide, emphasizing the imperative to prioritize workplace safety. It is hoped that this landmark decision will instigate heightened vigilance and precautionary measures across industries, preventing such disasters and safeguarding lives in the future.






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