Findings of inquiry into Enchanter tragedy in Northland due later this year

When the Enchanter sank in March, five men lost their lives and critics of skipper Lance Goodhew say his bad decision led to the disaster. Video / Mike Scott

An investigation into a Northland boating tragedy that claimed the lives of five people a year ago this month is expected to be released around mid-2023.

The Mangonui-based charter fishing boat Enchanter sank near North Cape on March 20 with two crew and eight fishers on board.

The mostly Cambridge-based passengers had been on a dream fishing trip to the Three Kings Islands when the vessel capsized in a violent storm.

Cambridge men Richard Bright, 63, Mike Lovett, 72, Geoffrey Allen, 72, Mark Walker, 41, and Mark Sanders, 43, from Te Awamutu died when Enchanter capsized. Five others survived.


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The Enchanter's wreckage at Houhora Heads. Five people died after the vessel capsized in March. Photo / Supplied
The Enchanter’s wreckage at Houhora Heads. Five people died after the vessel capsized in March. Photo / Supplied

The sinking sparked a number of inquiries, key among them an investigation by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC).

TAIC spokesman Simon Pleasants said the inquiry was in its final stages and a final report was big drafted.

However, that did not mean publication was imminent.

It was possible the commissioners could order further investigations, or that people named in the report would have to be consulted before the findings were released publicly.


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Generally such reports took 18 months to reach publication stage with this one “well advanced” and on track to meet that timeline.

That would place publication in mid- to late 2023.

Pleasants said TAIC had to consult anyone identified in a report as contributing to an accident, for the purposes of natural justice.

If someone was involved but the report found they did not contribute to the accident, the same law prohibited them from being consulted pre-publication.

At the time of the Enchanter tragedy, Mangonui Harbour warden Steve Smith said the deceased fishermen had only been in the town for a few days but were considered part of the community.

“The town is like it’s in mourning. It’s bad enough to lose a boat, but lives with it, is beyond belief. Our heartfelt sorrow goes out to those involved,” he said.

Meanwhile, a TAIC inquiry into a collision between a shunting train and a truck on the Fertiliser Rd level crossing in Whangārei, on December 7 last year, was ongoing. That accident left a railway worker with serious injuries.

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