24 Apr 2018

Coroner rules woman's death caused by rugby league injury

3:21 pm on 24 April 2018

The coroner has found that a serious head injury suffered by a Napier woman during a rugby league game caused her death.

Meat worker Katiana Tareta Pakoti Waikato died last August at the age of 22.

Ms Waikato had been training with the Tamatea Women's Rugby League Team for three weeks and was playing against the Dannevirke Tigers in Hastings when she died.

In his findings, Coroner Tim Scott said it was not entirely clear what happened, but it appeared that during the second half of the game, Ms Waikato gained possession of the ball and was either tackled or fell backwards, hitting her head hard on the ground.

Ms Waikato was able to stand up and leave the the field, but later collapsed when walking across a nearby carpark, he said.

The team's manager, Evelyn Rapaea, who is a registered nurse, saw Ms Waikato leave the field and heard her say she had a sore head.

It was not until she collapsed in the carpark that Ms Rapaea realised how serious the situation was.

Ms Waikato was taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital and died of a subdural haemorrhage at 8.50pm that evening.

Mr Scott added there was nothing to suggest the injury was caused by illegal or unsporting play.

"Sadly, the game of rugby league along with many other commonly engaged in sporting activities has a risk factor about it.

"That risk factor manifested itself in the worst possibly way here and lead to Katiana's death," he said.

Ms Waikato's family objected to a post-mortem and the duty coroner and police did not believe it was needed as the cause of her death was well documented.