Sidebar: Recent drownings at Akitio Beach:

* Dannevirke's Malcolm Cameron, 37, drowned at Akitio Beach in February last year while free-diving.

* Fijian rugby player 22-year-old Eroni Gaunavou drowned in April 2012 after suffering an epileptic seizure.


Chris Horrocks loves the beach at Akitio, but he also knows the risks associated with the sea.
Mr Horrocks has been holidaying at Akitio since 1969 and is living there while his house is built in Masterton and he's thrilled to see his campaign to have the Beware of Rips signs reinstated has succeeded.

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"Following publicity in the Dannevirke News/Hawke's Bay Today in June this year, the national water safety organisation threw their weight behind my campaign and the Tararua District Council to get the signs up," he said.

There are now three warning signs erected along the beach front, one at the river mouth, one at the ablution block and one in front of Mr Horrocks' beach home.

"I know Peter Greatbach, chairman of the Akitio Ratepayer's Association, would also like to see a sign up where the boats are launched," he said.

Mr Horrocks is one of the old guard of lifesavers at the Orewa Surf Club north of Auckland and was taught to respect the sea by his father.

"So many people who come to the beach have no idea what hazards to look out for or what to do if they get into trouble," he said. "When the tide at Akitio goes out, the rip turns into a whirlpool south of the bridge. Last Christmas I got a woman and three children out of the area where the rips occur and I also rescued my late father-in-law from drowning at the beach."

With no lifeguards on Akitio Beach Mr Horrocks said it's vital people are aware how dangerous the seemingly beautiful beach can be.

"It was great to see 70 Weber School children, teachers and parents on the beach last week learning water safety skills from Riversdale lifeguards," he said. "Everyone needs to be re-educated and if you are not sure, ask the locals.

"I love the sea, it's magnificent. But it changes all the time, so it can be deadly too."