Auckland port safety report will pave way for change, Goff says

9:51 am on 4 March 2021

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says a draft report on safety at the city's port is complete and will pave the way for change.

Phil Goff speaks to media following cabinet's decision to extend the level 3 lockdown in Auckland

Phil Goff said the report was commissioned by Auckland Council and paid for by Ports of Auckland but is independent of both organisations. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Some stevedores have told RNZ the need to clear freight quickly has added further stress to a workplace where there has been three deaths since 2017.

The Auckland Council-led safety review into the port was launched after a death last August.

Phil Goff said better monitoring and enforcement of health and safety is needed.

He said a WorkSafe report indicates one Auckland Port straddle driver set off a tip alarm 91 times during the shift when he died.

"He was on the phone while driving 64 times, he was not wearing a safety belt - there needed to be proper monitoring and proper enforcement," Goff said.

Goff said the wharf had a bonus system which meant the more workers did the bigger their bonus but that needed to be met with assurances that proper safety procedures were in place and rules were being followed and that never happened.

"The port was twice convicted for the fatalities of the first two cases where the investigations are complete - that tells me that there needs to be change at the port."

Goff said that is why he set up the review and its recommendations will be followed by the port.

"This is a review that's been commissioned by the council, it's been paid for by Ports of Auckland, but it's independent of both of us.

"It's being carried out by the Construction Health and Safety New Zealand Trust Board, they have experience in health in safety, they commenced in October 2020, their draft reporting date was the end of February, that's just over a week ago and I'm keen to get that report as soon as possible."

The report is with the Ports of Auckland and the council chief executive before being finalised.

Goff said it's a very important report which will set the agenda for future changes needed at Ports of Auckland "to create a better health and safety culture and environment and to ensure that monitoring and enforcement of the rules takes place".

The Ports of Auckland declined to be interviewed.

Full consultation over Erebus memorial site, Goff says

Goff said the question of whether or not an Erebus memorial should be put up in a Parnell park is now "past the point" of further discussion.

He said there has been full community consultation and the protesters currently at the site do not have a right of veto over the decision.

The protesters are led by Dame Naida Glavish, who believes the spot chosen near the old Mataharehare Pā site and an ancient pōhutukawa is not appropriate for the memorial.

However, her iwi, Ngāti Whātua, disagrees.

Goff said he is confident that there was full consultation with the local iwi and there was proper consultation.

"Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei are the relevant iwi, their marae is very close to this site and they have been consistently in support of the memorial on that site," he said.

Goff said the families of those have died on Erebus have waited more than 40 years for a memorial and deserve to see some progress.

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