Henry van Asch
A Queenstown tourism heavyweight says operators in the
resort are unlikely to be widely affected by the stalling of
Outdoors New Zealand (ONZ) audits.
The not-for-profit organisation, tasked with carrying out the
safety audits of about 500 operators in New Zealand by
November 1, has put its operations on hold, pending a full
review of its finances.
The ONZ board said it had not resolved to wind up the
organisation, nor had it declared insolvency, stating on its
website it was working hard to get the organisation's audits
''back on track'' to meet the November 1 deadline.
Operators not audited by November 1 had to either cease
operation until they were audited or face a fine of up to
A WorkSafe NZ spokesman said 39 audits had been completed and
an estimated 135 were partly done. About 326 companies were
yet to be audited in the next eight months under legislation
which arose from a review of the sector ordered by Prime
Minister John Key in 2009.
However, AJ Hackett Bungy co-founder and Tourism New Zealand
board member Henry van Asch said operators in the resort
would be ''much less affected'' than those in other areas.
Adventure aviation, commercial jet-boating and rafting were
exempt from the registration, as for these activities
rules-based requirements already existed to protect
''People like us [bungy] and jet-boating already have strong
audits in place by someone else,'' Mr van Asch said.
''This is designed to regulate some of the other operators.
''Queenstown is going to be much less affected.''
Tourism Industry Association chief executive Martin Snedden
said yesterday there was concern and frustration about the
situation and it appeared unlikely all operators would be
audited within the next eight months.
''There needs to be some pretty serious thought about whether
right now ... that deadline should be [extended].''
Mr Snedden said he understood there were enough auditors to
do the work, but there was no organisation engaged to oversee
it - and ''more than one'' might be required.
The situation had arisen after three of the four initial
auditing organisations had withdrawn from the process.
The first, Qualmark, withdrew in December 2012 because it was
''not appropriate'' for its staff to take on the role of
safety auditors, nor was it appropriate for Qualmark to
become a regulatory mark of safety standards.
Two Australian companies also withdrew in October last year,
leaving ONZ as the ''lone ranger'', he said.
''There was no way they were going to be able to meet that
target [of November 1].''
However, now was not the time to play ''the blame game''.
''There will come a time ... for a bit of reflection as to
how this happened.
''The key is ... [to] work with the government agencies to
get [solutions] in place and get them working as quickly as
The ODT reported in November it cost operators about
$3000 to undertake a two-day audit, which would last about
Mr Snedden said ONZ was trying to cover its costs, but didn't
make any significant profit. He thought private-sector audit
organisations would have been likely to have charged more to
carry out the work.
Mr van Asch said the cost of the audits did affect bottom
lines, particularly for small operators.
''Clearly, everybody in New Zealand wants it to be evident
they're operating safely, but ... the cost of doing it ... is
quite taxing on their finances.''