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15 Drowning Fatalities in January

12 February 2008
Media Release
For immediate release

15 Drowning Fatalities in January

There were a total of 15 drowning deaths in New Zealand during the month of January according to statistics released by Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) today. This figure represents a reduction in drowning deaths when compared with the five year (2003-2007) average for the month of January (18).

Recreational activity accounted for 10 of the fatalities in January with only three classified as Non-Recreational. There were two Other drowning incidents (Suicide and Road Vehicle).

Of the Recreational drowning incidents four were Swimming related, two boating and one in each of Land Based Fishing, Underwater activity, Board Riding and tramping.

Rivers accounted for five (33%) of the drowning sites with Beaches (Surf, Calm Water and Rocky Foreshore) a further four (27%). Three drownings occurred Offshore, one in a Lake and one in a Home Pool.

Three Pacific people drowned in January. There is continued cause for concern at the problematic rate in which Pacific people are drowning in New Zealand. In 2007 11 Pacific people drowned (10% of total toll). Over the recent Christmas Holiday period Pacific people were the largest ethnic category with four of the 10 drownings.

General Manager, Matt Claridge comments; “in order for the drowning toll to continue its downward trend specific attention must be paid to the development of fundamental swim and survival skills along with the ongoing refinement of specific interventions targeting at-risk demographic groups.”

WSNZ has already initiated the Pacific Peoples Water Safety Strategy, but in order to address the immediate concerns and highlight the educational opportunities for Pacific people in New Zealand with regard to water safety, a Community Meeting will be held in Auckland on Thursday the 14th of February.

The meeting is for Church Ministers and Community Leaders within the Pacific Community to meet with WSNZ Pacific Peoples Strategy Project Manager Ben Taufua. Discussion around current issues will occur along with exploring opportunities to further engage church and community members in the promotion and development of key water safety messages in the languages of its peoples. The church and primarily church leaders have been identified as the first level to engage through the forum. This has emerged because every Pacific person who drowned this year, had been a member of a local church.

Ben Taufua comments “Pacific water safety education has a great reliance on the community to be proactively involved. Invariably every drowning is preventable, the role of church ministers, community leaders and most importantly parents is one that cannot be undervalued or underestimated in ensuring Pacific people develop skills for life.”


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