Bay drownings highest in New Zealand

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The Bay of Plenty has had the greatest number of drownings this summer, prompting a national safety advocate to launch a new campaign to save lives.

Eight people drowned in the Bay this summer, contributing to a national toll of 35 drownings. The toll was up by four from last summer.

The official summer period runs from December 1 to February 28.

Water Safety New Zealand CEO Matt Claridge said the toll was an absolute tragedy and the increase in the toll was disappointing.

Mr Claridge said what made this summer's toll even worse was two of the deaths were children under five.

"Pre-schoolers are our most vulnerable when it comes to water safety and no children under five should be drowning in this country."

Mr Claridge said the under fives were a big priority for the sector and Water Safety New Zealand would launch a new campaign targeting parents and caregivers of the under fives with the 'within arm's reach' messaging at Easter.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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