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The death of an ex-All Black’s mother on a Central Otago farm has prompted a coroner to recommend changes to farm-vehicle guidelines.
Suzanne Joan Hore (67) broke her back after falling from the cargo tray of a side-by-side vehicle driven by her husband, Charles, after a ewe kicked her on November 3, 2019.
The tragedy sparked an investigation by WorkSafe which found the act of moving the unwell animal contravened the Patearoa farm’s procedures.
"The farm did not allow workers to ride unsecured in the rear trays of vehicles or on trailers," said coroner Alexandra Cunninghame in a decision released last week.
"A sticker on the cargo tray of the side by side reminded users not to carry passengers in the cargo tray, and this message was also reinforced in the owner’s manual kept in the glove box."
Despite the breach, WorkSafe said there was no public interest in pursuing a prosecution.
The farm, which has been in the family for more than a century, is now owned by 83-test ex-All Black hooker Andrew Hore and his wife.
Charles Hore noticed an unwell ewe which had given birth in the paddock behind the house and wanted to take her to the woolshed.
Mrs Hore said she would help.
They drove into the paddock on a Honda side-by-side vehicle, leaving the gate open.
Mr Hore caught the ewe, and Mrs Hore said that she would hold her on the cargo tray for the 800m drive.
But when he stopped to close the gate the animal kicked out, sending the woman off the tray, on to the ground.
Mr Hore rushed to her aid but she was not breathing, the coroner said.
A pathologist found a head injury to Mrs Hore but worse was a "significant displacement" to her vertebra, which caused her death.
WorkSafe’s guidelines do not identify the risk that can arise when sheep are transported across farms unsecured, or when they are held down, Ms Cunninghame noted.
"I recommend that WorkSafe updates the Safe Sheep Handling Guidelines to include advice that sheep should only be transported across farms by a vehicle if they are secured in a caged trailer, and that they should never be held down by a person while they are transported in a vehicle," she said.
WorkSafe said the coroner’s input may be taken into account when the two guideline documents come up for their scheduled review.
Andrew Hore paid tribute to his mother shortly after her death.
"She had amazing ability to see the good in everyone and she was always pretty keen to help," he said.
"She probably spent her whole life helping others — a very selfless woman, I’d say."