The Department of Conservation has been criticised for not
having adequate safety measures in place when a volunteer
died while taking water temperatures on remote Raoul Island
The department (DOC) was today convicted of failing to ensure
the safety of Romanian volunteer Mihai Muncus-Nagy, but no
further sanction was imposed because it had already paid his
family $60,000 compensation.
It's believed Mr Muncus-Nagy slipped into the sea as he was
taking temperature readings from water on Fishing Rock at the
island about 1000km northeast of New Zealand.
An extensive search failed to find any sign of the
33-year-old and he is thought to have drowned.
During sentencing in Auckland District Court today, DOC
lawyer Erynn Hughes said the department had already paid Mr
Muncus-Nagy's family compensation, and paid for his wife and
her father to come to New Zealand and Raoul Island.
Judge Chris Field deemed that "entirely appropriate'' and did
not impose any further penalty on top of the conviction.
"They've (DOC) taken this very personally and have been
supporting them (Mr Muncus-Nagy's family) in a number of
Judge Field said there were several areas where DOC failed to
ensure the safety of their employee.
It could have sent a second person with him to carry out the
work, and ensured he had a life-jacket or personal locator
beacon, he said.
"These are some practicable steps that DOC could have taken
in this instance.''
Judge Field said Mr Muncus-Nagy's death had ``dramatically''
affected his wife's life: "She is daily reminded of his
absence and feels an ongoing sense of loss and grief.''
Speaking outside court, DOC's deputy director of operations
Sue Cosford said it had strengthened safety procedures on
Raoul Island since the incident.
"We've instigated a significant number of improvements to ...
ensure our people are safe when they are working on the
island. In the case of this particular activity on Fishing
Rock, we are no longer doing water temperature testing there.
"This was a truly tragic accident. We greatly regret Mihai's
loss, it's been very devastating obviously for his family and
for our team here. He was a really well-liked, respected
member of the team.''
A plaque had been erected on the island in Mr Muncus-Nagy's