Skipper's widow on five charges

'Easy Rider'. Photo supplied.
'Easy Rider'. Photo supplied.
The widow of the Easy Rider skipper has been charged in relation to the sinking of the vessel in Foveaux Strait earlier this year, with the loss of eight lives.

Gloria Davis, sole director of AZ1 Enterprises Ltd and the Bluff-based widow of the boat's skipper, Rewai Karetai, faces multiple charges laid by Maritime New Zealand.

She declined to comment when contacted yesterday.

"I have nothing to say at this stage."

The sinking of the Easy Rider on March 15 was New Zealand's worst maritime disaster since the Wahine sank in 1968.

Maritime New Zealand laid charges in the Invercargill District Court yesterday against the sole director of the company which owned the Easy Rider, and the company itself.

Davis faces five charges: two under the Maritime Transport Act and three under the Health and Safety in Employment Act.

Charges include operating the vessel knowing a current skippers' certificate was not held, and "that she caused or permitted the ship to be operated in a manner which caused unnecessary danger or risk to the persons on board".

Maritime New Zealand has also laid five charges against the company - three under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and two under the Maritime Transport Act. Davis and the company has been remanded until October 23.

Maritime New Zealand declined to comment as the matter was now before the courts.

The bodies of John Karetai (58), Peter Pekamu-Bloxham (53), Shane Topi (29), and Boe Pikia-Gillies (28) were recovered, but those of Rewai Karetai (47), David George Fowler (50), Odin Karetai (6) and his father, Paul Jason Fowler-Karetai (40), are still missing.

Dallas Reedy (44) was the sole survivor, after spending 18 hours in the water clinging to an empty petrol container.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission says its inquiry into the capsize and sinking is in its final stages.

A legally-protected draft inquiry report has been given to people closely connected to the accident so submissions could be made before the final inquiry report.

Submissions close on October 19 and the final report is expected within the next three months.

hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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