Questions remain following Eramiha Pairama inquest

By Mānia Clarke
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A coroner's inquest into the death of Eramiha Pairama, a Bay of Plenty forestry worker, has provided some answers to his family today. Mr. Pairama was killed in 2013 when he was struck by a tree while working near Whakatāne.

Finally some relief for the family of Eramiha Pairama following a one day coroner's inquest in Tāneatua. But some things are still unresolved.

Pairama’s mother Selina Eruera (Ngāi Tuhoe, Te Whānau a Apanui) says, “Why wait until now?  Why did I have to make a complaint for any of them to come and tell me that this shouldn't have happened?”

The Council of Trade Unions last year successfully took a private prosecution against Puketi Logging after Mr. Pairama was killed. The company was found guilty of failing to take all practical steps to provide him with a safe working environment, they were ordered to pay $75,000 compensation.

“We're very concerned about the forestry deaths, and these families were really having to cope with them on their own,” says Helen Kelly the former CTU President.

Pairama was killed after being struck by a log attached to a harvest-line hauler. He was working alone and out of sight from his supervisor.

Eruera wants to see changes, “I want young men to go home after work.  I want less or no deaths from work.  I want accident victims, even alive ones to feel comfortable in reporting minor accidents.”

There has been a total of 26 forestry deaths in NZ since 2011, with the highest of 10 in 2013. Family members of other victims of forestry workplace accidents also lent their support.

Kelly says, “I'd like to see proper safety systems that really listen to these workers, and work out what it is.  Things like fatigue, training, hours of work, weather.   All of those things need to be properly addressed in order to continue what is now an improving health and safety record in forestry.”

The coroner's report and recommendations are expected to be released in May.