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Dawson & Associates Ltd - Dawson & Associates, maritime and fisheries law specialists, Nelson New Zealand

MNZ's power to suspend and revoke maritime documents


Sections 43 and 44 of the Maritime Transport Act 1994 allows Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) to suspend, impose conditions on, or revoke maritime documents.  When exercising these powers, MNZ has the capacity to potentially end the career of a seafarer or put a commercial maritime operator out of business.

The recent District Court judgment in Richard John Prentice v Director of Maritime New Zealand records that the revocation of Mr Prentice’s New Zealand coastal master certificate and commercial launch master certificate resulted in substantial losses, said to be in the region of $1,000,000.

Judge G M Harris reinstated Mr Prentice’s New Zealand coastal master certificate (subject to a condition that he does not operate a high-speed passenger vessel without receiving separate approval) and his commercial launch master certificate.

The District Court was severely critical of the procedure used by MNZ.  Among other things, it was noted:

  1. That Mr Prentice is a “fit and proper person” and has the qualities and qualifications required to exercise the privileges that flow from his certificates;
  2. The Court rejected MNZ’s conclusion that the revocation was necessary in the interests of marine safety;
  3. MNZ’s report on which the decision to revoke was based was prepared with a negative attitude towards Mr Prentice, was unfair and lacked objectivity.


MNZ are appealing the decision. 

The Prentice decision was reported in the November edition of Professional Skipper magazine and a copy of the judgment can be found here.

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