Fall and Death from container because of inadequate processes at CentrePort - Stuff

CentrePort has been ordered to pay a fine and costs of over $693,000 over the death of a worker who fell from a container he was working on in 2017.

Teihi Peka George Whaanga's family came to hear the last court act in the case that has lasted 2½ years only days before they attend his unveiling.

Wellington District Court judge Peter Hobbs ordered reparation and consequential economic loss to Whaanga's wife of $102,500, $47,000 between his five children and more than $36,000 in costs to Worksafe who brought the prosecution.

He hoped there was now some closure for the family.

CentrePort worker dies from head injury after fall
Fine over 60k for crushing death

CentrePort has pleaded guilty to a Worksafe charge of failing to ensure the safety of Whaanga while he was undertaking repairs of shipping containers.

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However it disputed the cause of the man's death.

Another judge had found that Whaanga had fallen from a height and suffered a brain injury and later died in hospital as a result.

Whaanga had been at work on January 31, 2017, atop a container where he was welding. He had used an unfixed ladder to get on top of the container.

A victim impact statement from Whaanga's children was read to the court,

''Too early, too soon, deeply missed,'' it said.He had missed out on the birth of a grandchild by weeks and would now miss all the firsts of their lives and all the celebrations yet to come.

Defence lawyer Michael Quigg said ladders were banned by CentrePort after the accident.

He said Whaanga was still thought of every day at the company and it wanted to extend its sympathies to the family.

Judge Hobbs on Wednesday said no dollar value could be put on a life. ''Mr Whaanga's life was priceless.''

He told the family that he had to work out the costs and fines payable but it did not match with the life of a man who loved his family and clearly was loved by his family.

The fine and costs including what the company had already paid out to the family as help with costs like payments on a house, continued wages and legal expenses came to a total now of $798,452.89. 

He said the risk of falling from a height was a relatively foreseeable one and CentrePort's training was inadequate.


Ruth Cuzner