Maritime New Zealand and the police are meeting today to
discuss whether any charges will be laid over a double
drowning in the Hauraki Gulf at the weekend.
Two men, both of Pacific Island descent, died when their
small craft capsized, sending seven men into the water. None
of the men was wearing a life jacket.
The names of the pair are not available and the officer in
charge of the metro maritime unit was unavailable for
A Maritime spokesman said more would be known about any
potential prosecution after the meeting. The police or
Maritime could take a case under section 65 of the Maritime
The act says it is an offence to operate a vessel in a way
that causes any unnecessary danger or risk to any other
person or property irrespective of whether any injury or
Penalties include a prison term of up to 12 months or a fine
of up to $10,000.
The charge is the same as the one faced by a father-of-two
whose children drowned when they were trapped when his 6.7m
vessel sank in 2007.
He pleaded guilty in 2008 to operating a vessel causing
unnecessary danger or risk.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Tongan Advisory Council,
Melino Maka, says messages about water safety are not getting
through to the Pacific community and the approach by agencies
such as Water Safety New Zealand must change.
Using celebrities such as Oscar Kightley, who is taking
swimming lessons, is ineffective, he said.
"I always advocate authorities should ask the families of
those that lost their loved ones in the water to actually
tell people the struggles they've gone through trying to
cope. That's the only thing that's going to work."
Water Safety NZ was unable confirm the exact numbers of
drownings this year. However, on average 105 people die in
the water every year.
- Yvonne Tahana, New Zealand Herald