The Waitere, also known as The Blue Ferry, sank two hours after the collision.
A ferry passenger who helped rescue a critically injured skipper after a collision between the vessel and a boat in the Bay of Islands has described the moments of the crash.
The incident happened just before midday Thursday on the water between Paihia and Russell, a police spokesperson said, with the injured skipper of the ferry flown to hospital.
Do you know more or have photos? Email email@example.com
”Police together with Coastguard cleared the ferry, which later sank around 2pm,” the spokesperson said.
Ferry passenger Yvette Ferreria-Botha had been on The Waitere, also known as The Blue Ferry, with her husband and children when the collision occurred and said she was one of the first people to tend to the ferry’s skipper.
* The tiny town named New Zealand’s most hospitable destination
* Person dies after two-boat collision in Okiwi Bay, Marlborough
* One dead, three rescued after yacht runs into trouble near Bay of Islands
“I was sitting at the front of the ferry with three others and watched as this boat came towards us from about 300m away.
“Twenty seconds before it hit us I told the woman next to me to get up and run as it wasn’t stopping, and then it crashed directly into the captain’s area as we jumped out of the way.”
Ferreria-Botha said she checked if her children were okay along with passengers who had ended up on the floor, before helping her husband open the door to the area where the skipper was.
“My husband is a surgeon, so we helped him the best we could while two other passengers helped us make space.
“Someone switched off the engine and soon another boat stopped, and we had two more medically trained people with us.”
Soon after, another ferry arrived and a few men helped to stabilise the two boats together to get the injured skipper back onto land, she said.
Police and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) are appealing for witnesses to the crash.
Naveen Kozhuppakalam, the chief investigator of accident at TAIC, said an inquiry into the accident had begun.
”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 from businesses or homes that may have video recordings from cameras trained on that part of the bay at that time.”
Over the next several days, TAIC’s investigators would be seeking out and recovering any wreckage where possible, securing electronic records and interviewing witnesses, Kozhuppakalam said.
“As well as interviewing people, we are interested in the two vessels, their individual and type histories, performance, maintenance, equipment and design.”
TAIC opened an inquiry when it believed the circumstances of an incident had significant implications for transport safety, Kozhuppakalam.
A police spokesperson confirmed they were assisting Maritime NZ with the investigation into the incident.
The spokesperson said police were also calling for witnesses to the incident to get in touch, along with anyone who saw “a vessel being driven erratically” earlier in the day.
The service is believed to be privately operated and is separate from the daily ferry run by Northland Ferries, said Far North District Council spokesperson Ken Lewis.
Information about the collision could be sent to TAIC’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Witnesses could also contact police by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and reference file number 230413/1475.