National | Tourism

Why Whakaari should reopen to tourists

Whakaari should reopen to tourists, according to Mark Inman, brother of Hayden Marshal-Inman who died on Whakaari last year.

Marshall-Inman, a 40-year-old tour guide from Whakatāne, was one of the 22 people who lost their lives in the eruption - a tragedy that changed the lives forever of a closely-knit community and whānau on that fateful day. The body of the 40-year-old was never recovered.

But Inman cites Mount Everest as a reason for reopening the tourist visits to White Island.

“The beautiful maunga that it is versus the risk of going there can be compared to Everest. There are many whanau who have lost loved ones there but still go there.”

Worth the risk

“To not return to Whakaari, Hayden would be disappointed,” his brother says.

“You can spend a lot of money on the most expensive gear in the world, you can sign waivers, you can analyse and mitigate the risk but at the end of the day adventure tourism is adventure tourism.”

Inman says he can’t comment on news that the helicopter pilots who rescued some of the survivors of the eruption on December 9 last year have been charged with offences relating to the eruption events by WorkSafe but asks: “For the pilots to be criminalised for the heroics of every day Kiwis, what sort of society are we becoming?”

Inman himself, a commercial pilot, had wanted to attempt to land to rescue his brother’s body but was warned off as aviation officials became concerned by continuing eruptions on the island.