New Zealand had its lowest drowning death toll in six
years last year - but the number of powerboat-related drownings
Water Safety NZ yesterday released provisional drowning
statistics showing 93 people died in New Zealand waters last
year, compared with 132 in 2011.
Four people drowned in Otago last year, compared with seven
Water Safety NZ chief executive Matt Claridge said the
decrease in the overall toll was a positive step, but not a
reason to be complacent.
He said there were still too many males drowning in New
Zealand - 88% of all drownings - and there had been a rise in
the number of drownings related to powerboating, with 20
deaths last year. In 2011 there were 11.
While that was disappointing, he said it was pleasing to see
the number of preschool children that drowned had declined
from 14 in 2011 to three last year.
''But our aim is to have zero preschool drownings, and we
want to halve the number of males drowning New Zealand,'' Mr
That goal could be achieved if New Zealand males wore
lifejackets when they were on the water, and skippers of
vessels attended a coastguard boating education course.
''At the moment a lot of skippers don't know what's available
to them, as well as what skills and knowledge they should
''Resources must be made available to ensure all roads lead
to skipper education for everyone,'' he said.
Some of the drownings related to powerboating were due to the
sinking of Easy Rider in Foveaux Strait last March, in which
eight people died.
''Even if we took that number out we'd still have double the
five-year average anyway - so there's a real trend there.''
All regions except for Wellington, Taranaki and Southland had
fewer drownings in 2012 compared with the previous year.
There were no drownings in Gisborne and Hawkes Bay.
In 2012, offshore drownings (24 deaths), overtook beaches (18
deaths) and rivers (16 deaths) as the main drowning
- Additional reporting APNZ