PORTS of Auckland has been fined NZ$424,000 (AU$396,000) following a fatal accident three years ago when swimmer and local school teacher Leslie Gelberger was struck by a pilot boat.

The port entered a plea of guilty to charges of failing to comply with a duty that exposes individual(s) to a risk of death or serious injury.

The charge related to Ports of Auckland’s pilot boat exceeding the 5 knot speed limit within 200metres of shore and exceeding the 12 knot restricted zone speed limit.

Mr Gelberger was swimming off Cheltenham Beach at the time.

In a statement posted online, Ports of Auckland CEO Tony Gibson said he was “deeply sorry that our pilot boat was involved in this tragic accident”.

“I would like to offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences to Mr Gelberger’s wife, children, parents, sister and wider family,” Mr Gibson said.


“As a family man I understand how much pain his loss has caused, and I profoundly regret what has happened.”

According to POAL, immediately after the accident, they acted to change the route taken by pilot boats to mitigate the possibility of a similar accident happening again.

Ports of Auckland says it has also addressed the issues that led to boats speeding in restricted areas, “which arose because of misinterpretation around the rules which grant pilot boats an exemption to the speed limits”.