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Investigation needed for search and rescue shortcuts

Police and Land Search and Rescue NZ (LandSAR) need to investigate whether public safety has been compromised by shortcuts and rorts at Tai Poutini Polytechnic (TPP), Labour’s Tertiary Education Spokesperson David Cunliffe says.

Conclusive evidence is being provided from multiple sources that a 54-credit, 540-hour Advanced Rope course that used to take eleven months to complete, has been delivered by TPP in just one week.

"New Zealanders deserve an assurance that lives are not being put at risk due to inadequate search and rescue training, and the key agencies - Police and LandSAR - must investigate immediately.

"I would not want to be hanging from a cliff by a rope tied by someone who had been rushed through the course, just so a provider can make bigger profits.

The Search and Rescue Institute of NZ (SARInz) has slammed the shortcut, arguing that safety has been compromised and "lives forsaken" by the alleged rort.

"In addition, concrete evidence of tutors being enrolled as students to inflate course numbers has not been addressed.

"Minister Steven Joyce has been asleep at the wheel. He has known about this since at least February 2014 and has done nothing to fix it.

"His lame excuses that this is simply a ‘commercial dispute’ cannot change the fact that a one year course is being taught in just one week.

"Where is the Minister's assurance to the public that no incidents requiring search and rescue have been compromised as a result of this?"

"Lives are at stake. It’s time for the Police and LandSAR to investigate and reassure the public that their safety is not at risk,” David Cunliffe says.