TAIC investigating collision between ferry and recreational boat at Bay Of Islands

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is investigating a collision between a passenger ferry and a recreational boat that occurred in mid-April at Bay Of Islands.

The collision happened midway between Russell and Paihia.


“We can’t yet confirm what or why it happened, but we have heard that the master of the ferry was seriously injured and hospitalised as a result of the accident,” said Naveen Kozhuppakalam, the Chief Investigator of Accidents at the time of the incident.

“TAIC is appealing for any witnesses. Getting the facts straight is vital, so we’re keen to hear as soon as possible from people who were on either vessel, anyone who saw the accident or the boats at any time in their journeys prior to the accident.

“We’re also keen to receive any CCTV footage from businesses or homes that may have video recordings from cameras trained on that part of the Bay at that time.”

The incident left ferry skipper Bill Elliot seriously injured with suspected head and spinal injuries.

According to witnesses on the ferry, a “massive launch” came full throttle straight towards the ferry’s side before it crashed.

The 50-year-old Waitere ferry, also known as the ‘Blue Ferry’, had just left Russell, en route to Paihia.

The motorboat – which one witness said had two 300 horsepower outboard motors – hit the side of the ferry at the front, close to where the skipper was. Several people were thrown into the water.

The Commission appointed a dedicated investigation team of two, who will be travelling to the Bay of Islands as soon as practicable.

The team’s evidence collection work is broad at first to support the many routes that an investigation could follow. The initial focus is on gathering evidence that could disappear or change – not just flotsam from the impact, but also memories while they’re fresh in people’s minds.

TAIC’s investigators will be seeking and recovering any wreckage where possible, securing electronic records – including photos, videos, and location data on people’s cellphones – and interviewing witnesses.

“As well as interviewing people, we are interested in the two vessels, their individual and type histories, performance, maintenance, equipment and design.”

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident or incident have – or are likely to have – significant implications for transport safety, or when the inquiry may allow the Commission to make findings or recommendations to improve transport safety.

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Photography: Visit Bay of Islands

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