Schoolboy burned at camp out of coma, speaking

Middlemore Hospital. Photo: RNZ
Middlemore Hospital. Photo: RNZ
The little boy who was badly burned on a school trip to a North Canterbury adventure camp has started to talk again - but still has a long recovery ahead including a seven-hour surgery.

The 9-year-old Hokitika boy suffered severe burns in an incident at the Waipara Adventure Centre near Amberley earlier this month.

Two other people - another student and a parent - were also burned.

The boy was airlifted from the camp to Christchurch Hospital and later transferred to the burns unit at Middlemore Hospital in Auckland.

He was placed in a medically induced coma and underwent numerous operations.

A Givealittle page was set up to help his family with their travel to and from Auckland while he was being treated.

More than $24,000 has been donated.

The family updated supporters on the page last week.

"As the journey in Middlemore Hospital continues we would like to start with sharing some positive news," they said on November 17.

"There has been no damage to his beautiful eyes and his vision.

"He is now able to talk. He has started eating small amounts of food. He has started light physio."

The child underwent two minor surgeries last week and was then assessed by a team of plastic surgeons.

"Our precious boy will be now reserving all his energy for a major seven-hour surgery … with dressing changes and checks along the way," the family said.

"Again we would like to express our gratitude to everyone who is thinking of us at this time."

On November 10, the family revealed the child was preparing for his eighth operation.

"Another massive week for our wee guy - surgery number six on Monday uncovered some issues which means the progress will be slower than first thought," they said.

"The set back means the family will be at Middlemore Hospital a lot longer than was first expected.

"Today was surgery number seven and our little darling is now resting in preparation for surgery number eight on Monday.

"We are so very grateful to all who have contributed to the fund - our family, friends and strangers alike.

"Just knowing we are in people’s thoughts keeps us going."

WorkSafe this morning confirmed an investigation into the incident had been opened after initial inquiries were completed.

A spokesperson said the agency could not comment further while the investigation - which could take up to 12 months - was underway.

Hokitika Primary School principal Traci Liddall was aware of the investigation and cooperating with WorkSafe, but could not give any further information.

Earlier this month she said the boy had been on a senior school camp when the incident happened.

"Those involved are being supported by us and the wider community," she said.

"Our main focus is now on supporting those involved and once the investigation is complete we will update our community."

The Sure and Stedfast Development Trust owns the WAC property and chairman Warren Dick told the Herald he could not comment on the matter while the investigation was underway.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by this accident," he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the three families and the school community.

"WAC is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all our clients and will undertake a thorough review of the incident."

TO DONATE: Click here to visit the Givealittle page.