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Borrow a lifejacket in Tairāwhiti

Coastal communities throughout Tairāwhiti will soon be able to borrow lifejackets for free, so they can be safe on the water this summer.

Council’s harbourmaster, Salvatore “Sonny” Ali, is establishing lifejacket lending kiosks along the coast, using a grant from Maritime NZ.

One kiosk is already up-and-running at Council customer services, with others being installed at the inner harbour, Tatapouri, Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay, Waipiro Bay, Tikitiki, Te Araroa, Hicks Bay and Lottin Point.

Four children’s and six adult-sized lifejackets will be available for short-term loan at each kiosk for people to use for activities like rock fishing, recreational boating, kayaking and stand up paddle-boarding.

The kiosks will also provide water safety information and the Safer Boating Code.

Drowning is the number one cause of recreational deaths in New Zealand, yet a recent survey showed only 49% of adults and 69% of children were reported to wear a life jacket every time they go boating.

“Often people do these activities without realising the risks they’re taking. The mission of the loaner lifejacket project is to reduce the chance of preventable drownings,” Mr Ali says.

The Tairāwhiti region has approximately 700 kilometres of coastline and over 90% of the population lives within 50km of the ocean. The region also welcomes tens of thousands of visitors over the summer holiday season, many of whom come to enjoy our beaches and waterways without thinking to bring a lifejacket.

“Unfortunately, a lack of available and affordable lifejackets can be a temptation to head out to the water without the proper safety equipment,” Mr Ali says.

“We’re hoping these loaner lifejackets will help alleviate some of that temptation and encourage people to wear a lifejacket anytime they’re on the water, or fishing off rocks.”

The Marine Transport Act requires vessels carry enough appropriately sized lifejackets for everybody on board - this includes paddle craft like waka ama, and kayaks as well.

Maritime NZ’s deputy director Sharyn Forsyth, said the funding was an important initiative to make lifejackets accessible for everybody.


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