Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Concerns over poor water behaviour after girl struck by jetski

The 11-year-old is recovering in hospital after being struck by a jetski. Photo / File
The 11-year-old is recovering in hospital after being struck by a jetski. Photo / File

A stretch of the Waikato River near Tuakau popular with both power craft and swimmers will come in for extra policing today after a little girl was injured by a jetski yesterday.

The 11-year-old child is today recovering in a surgical ward at Kidz First Hospital in South Auckland after she was struck by the pleasure craft at Les Batkin Reserve about 6pm last night.

Waikato Regional Council Maritime Service spokesman Richard Barnett said staff would be patrolling the popular recreational spot making sure those using the water were doing so safely as concerns mount over behaviour at the reserve.

"We remain concerned about the poor behaviour we continue to see in the Tuakau area," he said.

"We'll be back up there this afternoon doing some more patrol work and talking with folk on the water."

Many locals, including the local harbourmaster who was on patrol in the area prior to the accident, have reacted strongly to yesterday's accident on social media saying it was only a matter of time before someone was badly hurt.

"So yesterday, while at Les Batkin reserve, there were so many rules of the river being broken that the unfortunate incident with the young person was going to happen eventually ... what I saw was quite disturbing and please don't think it won't happen to you because it could!" posted harbourmaster Toby Kemp on the Tuakau, Pokeno and Districts Facebook page.

Posted Jess Cordes: "I drove past the river today. Heaps of boats, wake boards, sea biscuits etc but what caught my eye was the idiots on jetskis racing up and down while all these people were enjoying their Sunday!"

Mr Barnett said there would always be risk with boats and people using the water. Skippers had a responsibility to be on the lookout for swimmers, be aware of what's around them in the water, and operate their boat accordingly.

Concerns remained about boats on the Waikato River speeding close to people in the water.

"It's a recipe for a problem and the rules are there -- they're national rules and not a local bylaw -- and they're quite clear that speed is a maximum of five knots within 50m of a person in the water."

He said jetskis had their own designated area to operate in, upstream of the bridge.

Mr Barnett said he was yet to liaise with local police about what happened last night.

He was unclear about the role the council would play.

His thoughts were with the family of the injured child.

"We hope that the victim is recovering -- we don't know the circumstances -- but our focus is that the little girl's going to be okay," he said.

A Counties-Manukau Hospital Board spokesperson said the little girl was now in a stable condition in a surgical ward at Kidz First.

- NZ Herald

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