Don’t paint me Black

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Queenstown harbour­master Marty Black has a blunt reaction to news of a safety complaint made against him by Kawarau Jet.

“There’s absolutely nothing in it,” Black says.

In 30 years of jetboating, 25 as local waterways cop, Black says he’s never had an accident or incident – “apart from one or two minor groundings years ago, which happen to all jetboaters”.

Because the matter’s now with Maritime New Zea­­-land, Black refuses to comment further.

Kawarau Jet has reportedly told MNZ the incident on the Kawarau River last week was a near-miss.

Black was skippering a private jetboat carrying Queenstown Lakes District Council commissioners John Matthews and Leigh Overton when the Kawarau Jet craft, travelling at about 85kmh, allegedly had to take “evasive action” and do “a partial emergency stop”.

The independent commissioners are hearing applications by new jetboat player Thunder Jet for consents to ply the Kawarau River.

Thunder Jet’s bid is largely supported by QLDC and Black but bitterly opposed by Kawarau Jet, mainly on safety grounds.

From his sickbed, MNZ investigations boss Steve van der Splinter says he’s just making “preliminary inquiries to find out what happened”.

“I’ve got one report from Kawarau Jet which came through Marty. It’s bare, minimal information – there’s not even enough there to make an assessment on it.”

Van Der Splinter cryptically adds: “We’ve got something that’s spinning out of control here.”

He’ll take a few days to decide whether an investigation is warranted.