Friday, June 5, 2009

British Tourist Dies in Queenstown

See also: Other Backpacker related incidents in NZ

From The Times Online

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"A British man has fallen to his death outside a bar in the New Zealand ski resort city of Queenstown.

James Patrick Smith, 25, from Kent, fell about 10m from a roof into an alleyway, police in the South Island city said today.

His body was found outside a backpackers' hostel and bar by a bouncer at around 1.40am NZT.

The death did not appear to be suspicious and initial investigations indicated it was an accident, Senior Sergeant John Fookes of Queenstown police said.

The Times understands Mr Smith had been escorted from the Altitude bar earlier and may have climbed the building’s fire escape in a bid to get back in.

Rear view of the building

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The general manager of Base Queenstown backpackers' hostel and Altitude bar, Matt Hirst declined to comment and referred inquiries back to police. He said Mr Smith had not been staying at Base.

Senior Sergeant Fookes said Mr Smith had been on holiday in New Zealand with a friend and had been looking for work in Queenstown."

Different reports say that Mr Smith fell from a stairwell or a fire escape in an alleyway at the rear of the building. Judgement about whether or not his death was an accident should be reserved until a full and proper investigation has been carried out.

NZ Immigration Service Needs Urgent Attention

The long awaited Auditor General's report confirms that all is not well within the NZ immigration service and it's time to sort it out.

From a press release by Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Immigration on 4 June 2009

"Immigration NZ - another time bomb left by Labour"

"The release of the Auditor General’s report “Inquiry into Immigration Matters” confirms that Immigration New Zealand is a service that needs urgent attention.

“This report confirms that the mess left by the last Government is even worse than anyone thought,” says Dr Coleman.

“We’ve got a picture of a service with big problems, and I’m putting the onus right on the Chief Executive and the State Services Commissioner to deliver on their assurances that they have a plan to put Immigration New Zealand right.”

The Auditor General visited 10 Immigration New Zealand branches, interviewed 100 staff, and looked at more than 400 visa and permit decisions. The report found an unacceptable variation in quality of decision making between branches, training provided to staff, use of delegations, procedures for reducing back logs, and systems and practices for decision making, (including risk assessment, information documentation and verification of supporting documents) and quality control.

“Basically it’s a picture of a siloed organisation where people don’t talk to each other, the management practices are poor, and there’s a lack of standardisation in the way things are done across the service. (ed. and this is unique to the NZIS?)

“Immigration New Zealand staff are dedicated and hard working, but they are let down by a dysfunctional organisation. Furthermore, they don’t feel it’s an environment in which they can raise concerns further up the chain.

“It’s clear from the report that the decision to ask the CE to reintegrate the Pacific Division back into the core of INZ was the right one. The Auditor General confirmed my worst fears about what was going on in that division, and backed it up with the finding that 42% of the decisions made in that division were either questionable or poor. (ed. it's just confirmed what everyone else already thought)

“The Auditor General has made a list of detailed recommendations for change. It’s going to take more than just that - it needs a total overhaul of processes and a change in culture. The CE and the State Services Commissioner have asked for the chance to fix this department. I am calling them in to reach agreement for a timetable for fixing the service. They’re going to be held to their promises to turn this around,” says Dr Coleman."

Strong words, but will it be enough to bring about the change that is needed. Is it possible to dismantle and rebuild an organisation that has been seen to be inefficient for so long? The Habr family may think that not much has changed since the resignation of Mary Anne Thompson and a new government took over. See inefficient immigration service still ruining people's lives

Mary Anne Thompson (former head of the immigration service) is due to appear in court in relation to charges relating to dishonestly using her CV to gain pecuniary advantage.

She was also the subject of a conflict of interest enquiry over the the immigration status of members of her extended family.

Other recent immigration scandals have involved Tito Phillip Field and Lianne Dalziel

Shallow pockets for Dalu Mncube

The community managed to raise a paltry $5,700 to send the body of mauled zoo worker Dalu Mncube back to his home country, about half of what was needed.

So a warm hearted local businessman, car dealer Mark Cromie has offered to step in and make up the difference. Mr Cromie's business had previously been involved with sponsorship with the wildlife park and he also wanted to say thank you to Mr Mncube for all the work he'd done.

It's surprising that the state didn't take the initiative and make the offer to repatriate Mr Mncube, after all the Lion Man series didn't just drum-up tourist trade for Zion Wildlife Gardens but for New Zealand too, it was the least they should've done under the circumstances.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

"Auckland Freezes, Big Frosts NZ Wide"

"A stunning frost has this morning turned Auckland and parts of the 'winter-less north' into a white winter wonderland following a night of very low temperatures.

For the second morning in the row the normally frost free city has woken to frosts however this morning's one is particularly heavy - with parts of Auckland receiving lower temperatures than most South Island main centres.

Hamilton has again dropped below -4 making it colder than Queenstown.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says cold air left over from the long weekend's Antarctic cold snap is to blame. "Polar air from the weekend has been held in place by a large high that has brought simply stunning, sunny, weather to Auckland for the past few days along with bitterly cold nights".

Incredibly by 9pm last night frosts were already being reported in both inland and coastal parts of Auckland says Mr Duncan.

But it's not just Auckland. The Bay of Islands, one of New Zealand's sub-tropical holiday regions, has had two significant frosts in a row.

Mr Duncan says the shortest day of the year is still 3 weeks away with the coldest time of the year typically another 1 and a half to 2 months away."

See also: Freezing families told to toughen up and That's cold, exploding the myth about sub tropical New Zealand

"Political Apathy Killing Kids"

New Zealand's Pediatric Society has told a parliamentary committee that the country has the world's worst rates of child death and injury from preventable causes in the developed world, a damming indictment of the state of the nation's health service, coming hot on the heels of admissions that maternity services were stretched to breaking point.

Third world, poverty and overcrowding
In a Dominion Post report by Ruth Hill and Kelly Burns it's been revealed that the country's own doctors are saying that New Zealand's hospitals are overwhelmed by epidemics of infectious diseases associated with poverty and overcrowding, such as skin infections, whooping cough, chronic lung disease, pneumonia and rheumatic fever:

"Kiwi kids are dying in accidents and from abuse and Third World diseases due to political apathy, doctors and child welfare experts say.

MPs were told yesterday by the Paediatric Society that New Zealand has the worst rates of death and injury from preventable causes in the developed world and much more is needed to reverse the trend.

And in a report due out today, the children's commissioner calls for extra funding to educate parents about the dangers of shaking babies, as it reveals why about 45 children under five are seriously injured and five killed each year at the hands of carers.

Starship children's hospital paediatric surgeon James Hamill told Parliament's health select committee a third of all child deaths were due to trauma, but the only paediatric intensive-care unit in New Zealand was at Starship.

Overseas studies show children in adult intensive-care units are twice as likely to die compared with patients in paediatric ICUs.

Dr Hamill, who chairs the College of Surgeons trauma committee, said while it wasn't possible for every hospital to have a paediatric ICU, national standards for dealing with child trauma victims and better data collection were needed.

MPs were also urged to consider other measures, such as 20kmh zones around schools, restricting the minimum age for a full driver's licence to at least 18 and better restraints for children in cars.

Capital and Coast paediatric surgeon Brendon Bowkett said hospitals were being squeezed by epidemics of infectious diseases associated with poverty and overcrowding, such as skin infections, whooping cough, chronic lung disease, pneumonia and rheumatic fever..."

Read on here: Political apathy killing kids

Regular readers of this blog will know that
  • New Zealand was recently placed a shameful 30 out of 43 developed nations in the Save the Children Annual Children's Index. The countries that topped the list in order - Sweden, Italy, Netherlands, France, Austria, Iceland, Malta, Japan, Luxembourg and Spain.
Now that the country's own health professionals are sounding the alarm bells perhaps politicians will sit up and take this issue seriously.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Zealand Placed First in Global Peace Index

Vision of Humanity's Global Peace Index (GPI) has put New Zealand in pole position in a league table of countries most at peace. The GPI's International Review Panel has as its chair Professor Kevin P. Clements, Director, of the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand. No conflict of interest there then.

New Zealand anything but peaceful over the last month
This news will come as little comfort for the Asian family subjected to a brutal home invasion in the peaceful, upmarket suburb of Epsom in the early hours of this morning.

The father of the family, aged 63 was badly beaten and suffered severe head injuries, a broken back and cuts to his wrists, his son was also attacked and taken to hospital after the attack.

Police described the sickening attack as "very concerning, gruesome and cowardly attack on two defenceless victims, who have been seriously harmed. The level of violence used by these cowards could have easily been fatal".

Epsom was, if you remember, the scene of an armed robbery outside a girls high school school 5 day ago. see link A robbery that was just the latest in a string of similar violent hold-ups in recent months.

The same day, in the quiet peaceful little town of Porirua another home invasion was taking place - a 19 year old migrant from Cambodia was bound up and assaulted in the early hours of the morning by two people who broke into his home.

Earlier in the month Scottish tourist Stuart Martin had recovered well enough from a street beating, which left him in a coma, to return home. Mr Martin had been enjoying a night out in peaceful Taradale with friends back in February when he was set upon by street thugs.

Peace has now returned to the quiet Napier Street where heavily armed Jan Molenaar shot dead a policeman and then himself after drawing the attention of the World's press as pictures of armoured vehicles thundering through the streets of Napier flashed around the TV screens across the globe.

The residents of View Road, Glenfield also enjoy the peacefulness of their surroundings after being shaken by the stabbing death of Paul Chong, the tenth murder victim in Auckland this year.

I wonder if Melissa Lee, will ever feel peace again after suffering post-traumatic stress when her home was invaded six months ago by two balaclava-wearing, armed creeps who held a gun to her head. She said in her maiden speech "I don't feel safe in my own home, let alone the streets".

During a radio interview in May she said she couldn't sleep for six months afterwards, had to keep the light on all night and was getting up every two minutes.

But perhaps the ultimate irony has to be the robbery of two altruistic American Peace Corp volunteers in Christchurch, proof perhaps that no good deed goes unpunished.

....and all this in the space of an average month.

Now if this is what the most peaceful nation on earth is supposed to be like, I shudder to think what it's like elsewhere in the world and what planet the Vision of Humanity really lives on.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Freezing Families Told To Toughen Up

You've got to hand it to Genesis, they've got a way with words.

50 customers of the power company ran out of power at the weekend when a computer glitch prevented them topping up their pre-pay accounts.

Tania Tai-Albert lost her power at 8am on Sunday after being unable to top her credit and wasn't able to keep her three children, who have all got asthma, warm.

She rang Genesis to make a complaint, only to be told "get tough, you'll have to go without".

See the full story here Freezing family told: "Get tough"

The cut-offs happened during some of the coldest weather in New Zealand for decades, see Exploding the myth about tropical NZ and just days after it was announced that the NZ power generating industry was to be allowed to get away with gouging $4.3 billion from families like Tania's, see double standards.

In May 2007 Folole Muliaga, aged 44, died when Mercury Energy cut off her power because of unpaid bills. Mrs Muliaga was dependent on an electrically powered oxygen supply.

At the time Helen Clark called the company's actions "heartless and intolerable." I wonder what John Key thinks.

Indian Students Subjected to Racial Abuse in New Zealand

From The Times of India 25 Feb 2009

"Indian students studying in New Zealand's southernmost city Invercargill have been targets of racial abuse and called terrorists by

local people, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Four of those targeted are Sikhs who wear turbans, which they said made some ignorant people confuse them with Arabs or Muslims, the Southland Times reported.

One victim, Jasdeep Singh, told the paper he had defied his religious principles and had a haircut to avoid wearing a turban because he feared for his safety.

"I haven't told my parents yet," he said. "They will be shocked and quite angry."

Five students out of a group of 25 who arrived in Invercargill this month to study at the Southern Institute of Technology said they had experienced 16 incidents of racial abuse in the last 12 days.

Jasmail Singh said the abusers, men and women, were generally in their early 20s and the attacks, including calls to leave the country, had put them off walking around the city after dark"

Recent increases in migrant numbers have caused tensions to rise in the town where around 90% of the population was born in New Zealand.

Things got so bad last year that mayor, Tim Shadbolt and chief executive of the Southland Institute of Technology Penny Simmonds arranged a meeting with local skinheads.

Ms Simmonds said that two Indian students decided to return home after they were abused by a carload of youths. Other Southland leaders told of mothers being ignored at day care centres, 6-year-old children making racist remarks and migrants in rural areas feeling so isolated they visited the library to talk to someone.

Mr Shadbolt recommended that a designated student area with a hostel be set up away from the central business district because anyone walking through the city at night faced the risk of being abused “even if you go out with a police patrol”

“I’d hate to be wearing a turban walking up (the street in) Invercargill,” he said.

In March of this year a couple were forced to flee their Earn Street home after it was trashed by a white supremacists group that had moved in to number 43.

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Other residents also suffered wilful damage to property, intimidation and threatening behaviour from the group.

But it's not just migrant groups that have been subjected to abuse in the town, Gypsies have been targeted recently too.

Around 60 Gypsies, in the town for the annual Gypsy fair over the Easter weekend, called Invercargill the "worst town in New Zealand" and said that they dreaded going there because of violent attacks and vandalism from local hoons.

There have been calls for a "zero tolerance" approach to racially motivated crimes in Invercargill and the problem has been widely acknowledged to exist, yet the community either lacks the resolution or the resources to tackle it head on.

International press covers more stories of racist attacks on Indian nationals
From 1 June 2009
by Ajay Bharadwaj
"Chandigarh: After Australia, there are now reports of racial attacks on Indians in New Zealand. A 23-year-old student from Ludhiana was reportedly attacked by a drunken youth this week.

Nitesh Khanna, a student of diploma in business studies at Auckland, was attacked when he was on his way to work. The youth tried to rob Nitesh of his car and even damaged it. Nitesh's calls to the police for help went in vain.

The assailant chased Nitesh's vehicle till his workplace where his employer came to his defence. Nitesh informed his family in Ludhiana about the incident.

His father Rakesh Khanna says, "The incident is an offshoot of racial attacks on Indian students in Australia over the past four-five days."

The case is not an isolated one.

Sunil Sharma (name changed), doing hotel management course in Auckland, says, "I am subjected to frequent incidents of discrimination. But, I don't want to get any case registered. Recently, a brick was hurled at me by some youths when I was returning home".

"I know several other Indians facing the same situation. But, none of them will come on record, fearing problems in their academic careers," he says."

How many more students keep quiet, fearing reprecussions and a backlash if they make a complaint? I suspect the problem is much worse than is reported by the New Zealand press.

Update: sensing a chance to cash-in on the recent troubles in Australia the following press release has appeared in numerous publications aimed at Indians around the globe recently

"New Zealand Portrays 'Safe' Image To Attract Indians"

"Auckland: The number of Indian students heading to New Zealand has been steadily increasing over the past five years. This year the government is making efforts to see a marked rise in enrolments, marketing itself as a safe alternative to neighbouring where many Indian students have faced racist attacks.

Although Australia has nearly 90,000 Indian students and New Zealand only about 6,000, it is a huge rise from the 500 in this country five years ago.

"India has become an important source for students in recent years. The New Zealand government very much welcomes this growing Indian student body," says New Zealand High Commissioner to India Rupert Holborow.

New Zealand invests about NZ$3 billion annually in the tertiary (universities and polytechnics) education system where most of the Indian students are enrolled. And following a spate of attacks on Indians in Australia, the New Zealand government has asked its trade and enterprise office in India to market the country as a nation with a culture different from its neighbour.

"What we want to do is to remind education agents in India that New Zealand is a different country from Australia - in the nicest possible way," Robert Stevens, chief executive of Education New Zealand, was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald in June.

Many Indians living in New Zealand agree.

"I came here in February 2008 and I haven't faced any racial discrimination," says Joseph Lenus, an Indian pursuing a Diploma in Business at the Waikato Insitute of Technology (Wintec) in Hamilton.

Pharbhu Parsotam, an Indian origin resident of Hamilton, represented the New Zealand hockey team in the past and has coached various club teams. He believes that the country is very accommodating of people from other nationalities.

"I have never faced racism in all my playing days and after. In fact, I had been subjected to howling occasionally on roads but nothing in the sporting area or ground," says Parsotam.

Nagaraj from Channai, who has been studying physiotherapy at the Waikato University from July 2008, says he likes New Zealand's educational system because unlike in India it is student- oriented.

"Here we have a more relaxed way of learning and the tutors are casual in their approach. So adapting to studies and life is easier," says Nagaraj.

There are also a lot of job opportunities in New Zealand despite the global recession.

Gurminder Singh, who hails from Punjab's Jalandhar district, is pursuing a Diploma in Business Administration at Wintec and also doing part-time work.

"I work for 20 hours per week and earn nearly $200. With this money I could cover my living expenses as well as save and send for my family back home in India," says Singh.

Students enter New Zealand through a one-year student visa, which gets converted to a graduate open work visa for one year and allows them to opt for any job.

After one year, they can opt for a two-year work visa. Meanwhile, they can apply for permanent residency and get one if they get maximum points in the skilled migrant category.

Daphne Bell, a community organiser in Hamilton who teaches immigrants English for free and has authored "New to NZ: A Guide to Ethnic groups in New Zealand", says that Indian migrants provide a symbol of multi-culturalism that is essential for New Zealand.

"Indians work harder than the natives and New Zealand should make all efforts to tap the potential of the migrants," she says.

New Zealand is a multi-ethnic country and is predominately populated by the white population known as Paheka. The indigenous Maori community constitutes 16 percent of the population.

Historian and Auckland Institute of Technology professor Paul Moon says that though the Maori population was initially cold to Asians, there is now a better understanding among them for political rights.

"This is reflected in the election of Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi of the ruling National Party as a member of parliament," says Moon.

Suman Kapoor, New Zealand secretary of the Global Organization for People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), says Indians are safe in New Zealand because of the political clout that they enjoy.

"Indian origin people enjoy enormous political influence because political parties look up to them for funding during the elections," says Kapoor"

If you're an Indian student thinking about studying in New Zealand I hope your research can see through a press release.

Sung Won Kim - Korean Community Intervenes

The Korean community has made representations on behalf of horticulture student Sung Won Kim, who has to leave New Zealand by June 21 because she became pregnant.

According to the Herald newspaper Immigration New Zealand wrote to Ms Kim saying

"The fact that you are prepared to pay for all medical treatment has been accepted. However, NZ has a shortage of maternity care specialists and midwives, therefore you would be putting additional strain on our already short services."

More here: NZ Herald

For background see: Pregnant Women Ordered Out of New Zealand

Monday, June 1, 2009

THAT'S COLD - Exploding the Myth About Sub Tropical New Zealand

There is a lovely piece of writing by Linley Boniface in the Dom Post.

It's her account about what it's like to suffer the winter cold in a "flimsy wooden shack" (aka house) in Wellington, New Zealand.

If you're tempted to emigrate to New Zealand and been seduced by stories about its sub-tropical climate read on. If you already live in New Zealand you'll know what she's talking about and will perhaps manage a laugh through your chattering teeth:

"Which settler spread the myth that New Zealand was so balmy and sub-tropical that flimsy wooden shacks would suffice?"

"Without wanting this to sound like a suggested script for recruits to the sex chatline industry, I feel an urgent need to tell you what I am wearing.

There is a coat, a scarf, a pair of fingerless gloves and a hat of such hideousness that my small son almost fell down the stairs in fright when he first saw it. There are several tops, two sets of leggings and a pair of the kind of quilted sheepskin slippers rarely seen on anyone who still possesses all their own teeth.

It is, in short, an outfit offering the level of thermal protection an Antarctic scientist might require in order to spend an afternoon dissecting a Weddell seal on an exposed ice shelf. And yet, I am wearing this not on an ice shelf, but in my home office in Wellington. Although I can't tell you exactly how cold it is in here, my gin and tonic is only a couple of degrees away from freezing over.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, especially in my house. Having once believed I would throw myself on a landmine to protect my children from injury, I now refuse to move away from the fireplace to allow them to defrost when they return home from school. This southern hemisphere Siberia has turned me into a warmth hog.

Walking into my unbelievably chilly house after nightfall last week, I was unable to respond to my dog's friendly greeting because I was transfixed by a mental image of an illustration I'd once seen of a caveman taking refuge from the cold by sheltering among the still-warm entrails of a freshly killed buck deer.

My dog seemed to sense my train of thought and quickly slunk away. Luckily for her, she is a small dog and her chest cavity would be of use only as a footwarmer: if she'd been a great dane, it would have been a different story.

Ask any migrants to New Zealand what bewilders them most about this country and they will immediately mention our cold homes - as well as our insane driving, our inability to laugh at ourselves and our inexplicable fondness for cheap pies containing mince presumably garnered from recycled camel genitalia.

The cold homes, though, are most baffling, because most people consider hypothermia a symptom of being cold, rather than an expression of national identity."

It could be worse, she could live in Dunedin.

Read the rest here Which idiot spread the myth?

The forecast for Wellington to 9am Monday 1 June : Min Temp 2, Max 8

Pregnant Women Ordered Out Of New Zealand

Lincoln Tan has written an expose in today's New Zealand Herald in which he revealed that women on temporary visas are being forced into leaving New Zealand if they fall pregnant.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that New Zealand was a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) a United Nations Treaty based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

New Zealand is one of the few countries that didn't incorporate the ICCPR into law, instead it supposedly gave effect to many of the rights contained within it by passing the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act in 1990.
A report by civil rights lawyers to the United Nations says New Zealand law allows significant human rights failings and breaches of international treaties,

The shadow report written by former Council for Civil Liberties chairman Tony Ellis and a team of lawyers was submitted to the United Nations.
It said New Zealand could do better in many areas of human rights law and that there were several deficiencies in respect of New Zealand’s international human rights obligations.
The Human Rights Act 1993 prohibits "discrimination due to pregnancy", but there is a specific provision to exempt immigration matters. But within the ICCPR are provisions for protection based on gender. If throwing out a woman because she's pregnant isn't a contravention of that what is - is the 1993 Act contrary to international conventions?

It's deplorable that New Zealand openly practices eugenics in its selection of 'suitable' migrants, e.g. families with children with Downs Syndrome or Autism, or overweight mums are refused entry, without victimising women for exercising their basic human right to have a child.

Some will say that these women are a burden to an already overstretched health service struggling by on very limited resources, but the sad fact is that even if they offer to pay for private obstetric care they are still shown the door.

New Zealand is very content to rake in billions of dollars from foreign students (international education is worth over $2.3 billion a year, making it the fifth largest earner) and will tax skilled migrants to the hilt but it puts up the shutters when asked to provide something in return. Perhaps some of those dollars should be put into improving the health service for all.

Much was made recently of New Zealand placed sixth in the 2009 Save the Children's annual Mothers' Index (perhaps to draw attention away from its rather shameful position of 30 out of 43 in the Children's Index) the abuse of pregnant women's rights has got to be reflected in next year's index if it is to be taken seriously

One of the women has taken her case to the NZ Human Rights Commission but looks like she stands little chance of getting a satisfactory outcome.

What next, pregnancy tests at the border before visas are issued and women terminating their pregnancies to remain in New Zealand?

I suspect that the latter is already happening.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Adventure Tourism Industry Safety

The death of 6 high schools students and their teacher on an outward bound course resulted in the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoors Centre being ordered to pay a $40,000 fine and $440,000 in reparations.

The tragic deaths stunned the nation when the school party drowned in a rapidly flooding gorge after warnings of heavy rain weren't acted upon.

Following the court case the Department of Labour urged the adventure tourism industry to look critically at its health and safety systems in light of the Mangatepopo canyon trekking tragedy. A lot should've been learned, but has it?

A lot has already been written about the tragedy on the net so I won't go over it again, I'll just point interested readers towards an excellent thread by Steve Howe on Backpacker blogs, from which the following snippet was taken

"We Americans and our media tend to point fingers hard and fast after adventure fatalities, but Kiwis apparently follow the opposite philosophy to an almost surreal extreme. The prevailing New Zealand attitude seems to be that adventure requires risk, adventurers shouldn’t be coddled, the OPC is very professional, and no one could have predicted what happened. And I’d like to believe that, but it just doesn’t wash.

We’re not talking about adventure or adventurers here, we’re talking about high school students contracted to a commercial guide service for adventure training. When you combine risky pursuits, young guides, novice clients, and business volume, the standards have to be higher than ‘everyone knew the risk’ simply because everyone doesn’t. And that’s particularly true of canyoneering, which combines fun but risky activities like rappels, pool jumps, and whitewater swimming with sexy scenery and aerobic ease – the perfect combination for marketable adventure.

But canyons are also very committing. IMHO, slick pouroffs, whitewater currents, undercut boulders, logjams, rockfalls, flash floods, and difficulty of retreat make them generally unsuited to volume guiding or team-building exercises. And the New Zealand version of ‘canyoning’ differs greatly from American-style ‘canyoneering.’ Canyoning often involves precision pool leaps from high cliffs, or necky whitewater swims above the brink of waterfalls, risks that American outfitters would never incorporate into their operating plan.

I’m a firm believer that sudden accidents rarely happen suddenly. With a little forethought and a few case histories under your belt, you can often see accident situations setting up hours, days, even weeks in advance. I’m not interested in doing a long distance Bill Frist/Terry Schiavo diagnosis here. Lessons will indeed be learned from the investigations now underway. But I suspect those lessons were already in plentiful supply. And as evidence, I offer the following recent canyoneering incidents, each with a brief outline, news links, and perhaps a few details that never made it into the media. The similarities are obvious. The gist? Hike safe mate"
Read on

If all else fails I guess there's always the 'New Zealand Life Back Promise’ to fall back on?


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