Puketi Logging sentenced over death of Eramiha Pairama

1 October 2015

Puketi Logging has been sentenced to pay $75,000 in reparation, along with a $25,000 fine, by Judge Robert Wolff in the Tauranga District Court, for the death of its employee 19-year-old Eramiha Pairama two and a half years agoThis follows a successful prosecution by the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) that took place in the same court in August.

Pairama was killed instantly after he was struck by a log attached to a harvest-line hauler that had snagged on an obstruction and rebounded into him. Judge Wolff said it was clear Puketi Logging, under the directorship of Whakatane businessman Lawrence Harper, had dramatically failed Pairama who was working alone and out of sight of his supervisor,  breaking out the logs on a hillside above Taneatua on a hot afternoon on Friday, 11 January 2013.

"He was inadequately trained to deal with that sort of log. He should not have been left alone by the foreman that day." 

The private action was brought by CTU president Helen Kelly, after WorkSafe NZ chose not to prosecute the company at the time.

Reading a victim impact statement in court, Pairama's mother Selina Eruera said the time since her son's death had been extremely stressful for her and her two younger sons and she was a long way from achieving any sort or resolution or answers to her many questions.

"This has become a dark cloak over me. Anger and confusion continues to cloud my thoughts constantly," Eruera told the court. "I'd give up everything I own to have my son back with me."

Kelly said prosecution was brought by the CTU because it felt compelled to improve the safety record in the forestry industry, and there had been an improvement in the attitudes of operators as a result of the increased scrutiny. This year there has been 60 per cent fewer reported accidents in the industry, compared to 2008.

Source: Story by Mike Mather, Fairfax NZ. To read the full story >>