The prosecuting judge for the White Island incident has handed down sentences over the fatal disaster. Almost $10 million in damages will be paid out to the families of the victims and survivors of the eruption. Many Royal Caribbean passengers were among the victims of the disaster.

The case has been running since last 2020 and Judge Evangelos Thomas said the court recognises the extreme pain of the victims, their families, and the survivors.

“Twenty-two people lost their lives, the remaining people on the island were all injured, most seriously. For those remaining, the suffering has been immense.

“The treatment was often painful, arduous, and disheartening, for many it remains ongoing.

“Many people grapple with disfigurement of one kind or another. It’s just simply the physical injury that has caused such harm … the emotional consequences deepen the suffering. We acknowledge that harm.”

Whakaari Management Limited was made to pay a penalty of almost $1 million, as well as more than $4.5 million in reparations. Whakaari Management Limited is the owner of White Island.

White Island Tours was also forced to pay around $500,000 as a penalty and a further $4.7 million in reparations.

The remaining reparations came from Volcanic Air Safaris, Aerius Limited, and Kahu NZ Limited.

Defendants told they “used an active volcano” for profit

The judge ruled the guilty defendants had been operating to make money and profit even while the volcano was active, indicating a failure in safety assessment.

Judge Thomas said: “Properly assessing risk to tourists and employees caused by an eruption was blatantly fundamental.

“None of the defendants had any volcanology expertise, they had to get risk assessments done by the appropriately qualified people … that failure compromised everything else they did.

“That failure exposed others to the risk of serious injury and death.” 

The case was the largest action of its kind to ever be brought to court by Worksafe NZ.

Here are 10 ways to stay safe on your shore excursions.