8 Feb 2013

Outdoor centre charged over Paritutu Rock deaths

6:32 am on 8 February 2013

The Taranaki Outdoor Pursuits and Education Centre is facing charges with maximum penalties totalling $750,000 over the deaths of three people.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's health and safety group laid four charges in the New Plymouth District Court on Thursday, alleging that the centre failed in its safety obligations to employees and students.

In August last year, students Felipe Melo and Stephen Kahukaka-Gedye were swept off Paritutu Rock and drowned, along with instructor Bryce Jourdain who dived in to try and save them.

They were on a Spotswood College rock-climbing trip run by the outdoor centre.

The charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act include failing to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of Mr Jourdain and a volunteer instructor from Germany.

The centre says it won't make any comment on Thursday on the charges.

Community support meanwhile remains strong for the outdoor centre.

Hawera High School principal Hans Konlechner says his students continue to go on Topec-run trips.