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Enchanter sinking

Page updated: 11 August 2023

On 20 March 2022, the fishing vessel Enchanter sank off Otou / North Cape. Five people were rescued and another five sadly died.

Te Manatū Waka and the New Zealand Search and Rescue Council acknowledge the tragic events of 20 March 2022. Our thoughts are with the whānau and friends of all the crew and passengers who were on board that day.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission inquiry report included a number of recommendations for the search and rescue sector. This page records our progress towards implementing those recommendations.

Latest update

Updates on the NZSAR Council's progress towards implementing the recommendations from the TAIC investigation.

11 August 2023

Please attribute to Duncan Ferner, Director New Zealand Search and Rescue Secretariat:

Te Manatū Waka would like to acknowledge this tragedy and lives lost on the Enchanter. Our thoughts are with the family members of all the crew and passengers on board.

We welcome the recommendations in the report.

We will work through the recommendations and how they may be implemented, with our colleagues across the New Zealand Search and Rescue Council. Some work in this area is already underway.

There are over 11,000 people involved in search and rescue in New Zealand, who collectively respond to over 3000 incidents every year. They are highly skilled, dedicated SAR professionals – 90% of whom are volunteers. They do an important job in helping to keep people safe, as they are out and about in the outdoors in New Zealand.

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Information about the Enchanter sinking and the role of the NZSAR Council.

The Enchanter sinking

On March 20, 2022, the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) received a distress alert from the Enchanter, a fishing vessel with ten occupants which capsized east of North Cape / Otou. RCCNZ coordinated a massive search and rescue operation that lasted for 46 hours in strong winds, large swells, heavy rain, and thick clouds. Five survivors were winched from the water by helicopter. Over the next two days, the bodies of the other five men on board the Enchanter were recovered.

About the NZ Search and Rescue Council

The NZSAR Council is chaired by Audrey Sonerson, Secretary of Transport at Te Manatū Waka.

Other members of the NZSAR Council include Maritime NZ, the Civil Aviation Authority, NZ Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, NZ Defence Force,  the Department of Conservation and an independent member.

The NZSAR Council is supported by the NZSAR Secretariat, which is housed within Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport.

The Recreational Safety and Search and Rescue Review

Te Manatū Waka has been leading a review into the recreation safety and search and rescue systems. The systems are complex and involve many government and non-government organisations who want people to get outdoors and home again safely. The aim of the review is to make sure the systems are working in the best way possible, and that all the organisations who work in this area are well supported and able to work together.  The review is expected to conclude soon. More information is on the Te Manatū Waka website.

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TAIC investigation

Findings of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.

The final investigation report from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission can be found on the TAIC website.

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The TAIC investigation report made five recommendations to Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport. Te Manatū Waka will work with the NZSAR Council to implement these recommendations.

The recommendations were that the Secretary for Transport:

  • Delegate responsibility to one or more entities, for the remit, jurisdiction and resources to set standards for search and rescue (SAR) assets and the training of their SAR crews and enter into service level agreements with other agencies and operators for the provision of search and rescue assets. [012/23]


  • Coordinate across government and other appropriate agencies to identify and source air and maritime assets that are appropriately designed, equipped and crewed to meet New Zealand’s full SAR requirements. Government agencies that have a potential dual use for these assets or who have existing assets that could provide a dual role should be considered [013/23]


  • Work with SAR coordinators and providers of SAR air assets across New Zealand to identify opportunities for the supply and, if necessary, the storage of fuel for extended SAR operations in remote areas, and maintain a database of identified stored fuel and fuel supply logistics. [014/23]


  • Work with SAR coordination entities to ensure they have procedures for prompting the operator of air assets about the maximum range of operation and opportunities for refueling for sustained SAR operations. [015/23]


  • Work with SAR coordination authorities to identify SAR assets that are likely to be routinely called on to act as on-scene coordinators and develop a joint training programme that will ensure that they work to the same framework and use the same terminology as the coordinating authorities. [016/23]


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NZSAR Awards

The Gold Award for Operational Activity at the 2022 NZSAR Awards was presented to six organisations and an individual for their efforts to rescue 10 people when the Enchanter sank.

Northern Rescue Helicopters, Northland Police SAR Squad, Police National Dive Squad, Maritime NZ Rescue Coordination Centre, the crew of Florence Nightingale, the crew of Pacific Invader and Kobe O’Neill were presented with the NZSAR Gold Award (Operational Activity) at a ceremony held at Parliament in May 2023.

The NZSAR Council would also like to acknowledge the efforts of the other agencies who contributed to this significant search and rescue operation, including the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the crew of Katrina and Kie La, HMNZS Taupō, No. 5 Squadron RNZAF, the fuel tanker operators, No. 40 Squadron RNZAF, Land Search and Rescue, Coastguard, Surf Life Saving NZ, and Skywork Helicopters.

More information about the NZSAR Awards is available on our website.

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Media enquiries specific to the Enchanter sinking can be directed to Duncan Ferner, Director NZSAR Secretariat, on

All other media enquries should be directed to Tania Seward, Senior Advisor Communications and Prevention, on 022 015 3863 or

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