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Ed Sheeran

Whale Island death casts pall on new boat launch

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Ngati Awa-owned While Island Tours has put off a welcome for its new boat after the death on one of its tours of another Bay of Plenty motu, Moutohora or Whale Island.

The 73-year-old man fell while on a guided tour last Thursday and was airlifted to Tauranga hospital, but died from injuries a day later.

Ngati Awa Group Holdings chair Paul Quinn says the iwi is cooperating with the coronial inquiry.

A welcome for the new Te Puia Whakaari scheduled for yesterday will be held later in the month.

Mr Quinn says eventually the company intends to replace the three boats it bought with the business with 19-metre catamarans, similar to those used by Whale Watch Kaikoura.

He says the new boat can make the 49 kilometre trip from Whakatane to Whakaari White Island with more passenger comfort and in a wider range of sea conditions, meaning four or five more sailing days a month.

Whakaari is New Zealand’s only active island volcano, and the tour attracts many independent tourists as well as visitors from cruise ships.


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