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Aratere Ferry Grounding

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Aratere ferry grounding: Simeon Brown raised concern about KiwiRail maintenance

RNZ

The grounding of the 25-year-old Interislander ferry comes just days after Transport Minister Simeon Brown raised serious concerns about KiwiRail’s maintenance of its fleet.

It was just the latest problem in a series of issues for KiwiRail.

On Friday night, the Aratere ran aground 3km north of Picton with 47 people – most of whom were crew – on board.

KiwiRail are working on plans to refloat the vessel, and eight passengers and 12 crew disembarked on Saturday morning.

It comes days after Brown criticised the state-owned company for its handling of ferry maintenance.

At the transport and infrastructure committee on Thursday, Brown expressed government concerns about how KiwiRail had been looking after its fleet.

“We also want KiwiRail to make sure they’re maintaining their existing boats to the appropriate standards, which has been a significant issue that we’ve been highly unimpressed with coming into government.”

KiwiRail had been improving their maintenance protocols significantly from the “poor” processes it had in the last few years, he said.

This was partially due to KiwiRail having the importance of well-maintained Cook Strait ferries being highlighted to them.

Brown’s comments were not the first time KiwiRail’s handling of the Interislander service had been called into question.

Late last year, the government canned the Inter-Island Resilient Connection (iReX) project due to its budget blowing out from $1.45 billion in 2021 to $2.6 billion in 2023.

It would have seen the construction of two large ferries and new port infrastructure in Wellington and Picton.

In a release of documents related to the project last month, the Transport Ministry questioned whether KiwiRail was up to the task of running the Cook Strait ferry business.

KiwiRail’s costs continued to grow while its competitor Bluebridge operated commercial services without a subsidy, the documents said.

The ministry said a more commercially viable option should be possible if a new approach was taken, “especially by someone other than KiwiRail”.

“Given the difficulties KiwiRail have had with Project iReX, and the fact they have a range of core rail issues to address, [it] raises the question of KiwiRail’s suitability to run the Interislander business in the medium to long term.

“The Interislander business could be separated into another State-Owned Enterprise or sold via a trade sale.”

KiwiRail was also criticised by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) after the Kaitaki ferry lost power with 880 people in January 2023.

The transport watchdog found that the ship’s engines failed after one of the ship’s safety-critical rubber expansion joints ruptured and prevented the engines restarting.

It said the accident happened because KiwiRail had failed to replace safety-critical parts, which were years past their use-by dates.

After the incident, KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy apologised and said the company had taken “a number of steps to ensure it never happens again”.

Earlier this year, Maritime NZ filed one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act following a near year-long investigation into the incident.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Shouldn’t you have the toothy one in place of Kate Winslet?
    After all she enabled kiwi rail to have grandiose ideas.
    I think her labor appointed lackys on the board were feather bedding.
    Hunting for a mentioning in dispatches, complete with shiny medal.
    Just imagine if labor were still in power, we would have two ocean going liners,
    Maybe we could have gone cruising to Antarctica or the islands, in off season.
    Along with a great concrete and steel edevis erected at each end.
    I hope the maori, were not getting a head of them selves making up names.
    Those names were always going to Dame Jacinda Ardern and Helen Clark.
    Fish boy and what’s his name were going to be named for lifeboats.

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  2. The pattern is the same the world over in communist/fascist/dictatorships. Venezuela, South Africa, New Zealand….

    [1] Spend up large on DEI/Woke/Virtue Signaling/Indigenous/Climate Change/Pandemics/Bling/Bling for mates/Insert here…
    [2] Ignore the day to day maintenance and upkeep.
    [3] Cry Capitalism/Whites/etc are to blame.

    Example:
    In South Africa under black rule, nepotism and [1] took over, so lots of Mercedes, BMW, Audis for the new black :”officials”, and paid for mates/Blackrock/contracts at several times the going rate. No money spent on maintenance of the power systems, resulting in revolving power outages, etc

    In New Zealand under the Ardern dictatorship, they printed/borrowed $150Bn, splashed out money like confetti to “indigenous”, Blackrock, Pfizer, with nothing to show. They abandoned maintenance on Ferries, Power, Water, Roads, Planes, etc, etc.

    They even criminalised you if for your health you opted for your body health maintenance of Fresh air, Sunshine, Exercise, Supplements, Ivermectin, instead spending money on pocket pissing/Bling/Feelz. They told us the only way to fix the Water was handing the water over to entities that couldn’t manage technology and probably couldn’t even build a proper hāngī.

    Where did the $150Bn go?

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  3. I caught the interislander once, this year, and it broke down twice. Drifting at sea for a couple of hours in the dark, was quaint once you got over the initial terror. We were in the middle of the channel, so no worries. Odds are the mechanical availabilty on these things are shocking, and the board has been trying to paper mache over a shit storm with maori, diversity and distractions in general.

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  4. constant users view of the ferries.

    Good evening,
    Thanks for the messages from several peeps asking if I was ok and whether I was on the poor old Aratere. No I wasn’t on that sailing but I had just been on it that afternoon and was booked to travel back to Picton on its next sailing. It’s times like this that I get a little nervous about getting stuck on a ferry or breaking down in my truck with someone’s furball with me.
    One of our drivers was on this evening sailing of the Aratere when it ran aground, he was one of the 40 odd people who spent the night onboard. He made it off the ship this morning luckily but one of our trucks along with others are still onboard obviously at this point.
    Now I’d just like to use this time and post to share my positive thoughts on the Interislander and the way we get looked after.
    This is not a political post at all.
    There is soooo much negativity towards this company (understandably so too) but as someone who does at least 312 sailings per year on Interislander in a normal year (this could be as much as 350 ish or more some years) and 5 out of 6 crossings each week is on this very ship ‘Aratere’ so I have a very close relationship with many staff onboard the ship and staff on the ground too as obviously I am seeing them six days per week. These guys n gals are people like us and love what they do and most are very professional and always looking to make sure we are looked after as Commercial drivers along with all the paying customers.
    They have gone out of their way on so many occasions to help me out with pups and making sure they’re sorted when there have been ferry issues or weather issues and crossings cancelled.
    I’m really just trying to point out that even with all the bad press on the ferries that the staff go out of their way to make sure everyone has an enjoyable sailing no matter what’s going on.
    All Interislander staff are trained for situations like what has just happened in Picton and although I wasn’t on there luckily our driver has reported that the shift who were on had acted extremely professionally and made sure everyone onboard was safe and well looked after while themselves were also having to deal with the stress of what was going on.
    Anyway, again this is just a post to show appreciation for all the staff on and off the ships from Interislander. You guys all rock and I enjoy my time travelling with you all.
    Let’s get Aratere up n sailing again and hopefully sooner rather than later it and K1 and K2 can retire.
    #aratere #interislander #cookstrait #dogsofinterislander
    #cooltranz
    Please keep this politics free and just appreciate the staff who sail day in and day out.
    Peace love and happiness lol
    https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10231676281306738&set=pcb.3704091383181863

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  5. Our Maui tender boat di an unusual sailing this afternoon, it went 2/3 of the way to Maui. Normal sailing is midweek and back late in the week. Did a hinkee turn and on it’s way back to port. Where was it was going and for what?

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