Male swimmers urged: please take more care

By Amelia Wade

Two drownings and six near-tragedies in a single day spark water safety plea.

Water safety experts are begging young men to stop overestimating their abilities or underestimating conditions after a deadly day on New Zealand's waters.

In the North Island yesterday, two people drowned and six others were injured in five separate incidents.

Read More:

Tragedy on the water: Two separate drownings today
Swimmer drowns near Okere Falls
Tragedy on the water at Raglan

Nearly all were males aged 16 to 22, sparking calls for better education to prevent more needless deaths.

In Raglan, a 16-year-old died after jumping off a bridge at a popular swimming spot.

He was struck by another bridge jumper and disappeared underwater at 12.20pm. He was found 10 minutes later.

On the Kaituna River near Okere Falls, north of Rotorua, a 22-year-old man drowned and another was taken to Rotorua Hospital with serious injuries. Police said three friends, all of Indian descent, were swimming at Trout Pool when they got into difficulty. Witnesses saw the victim go under the water about 2pm. A bystander saved the two other men, one of whom was in a serious condition.

Whanau and friends of the Raglan 16-year-old gather opposite the footbridge from which he jumped. Photo / Alan Gibson
Whanau and friends of the Raglan 16-year-old gather opposite the footbridge from which he jumped. Photo / Alan Gibson

At Muriwai in northwest Auckland, two Koreans, aged 16 and 17, nearly drowned. Surf club president Tim Jago said the teens, who couldn't swim, were body boarding between the flags but got caught in a rip and started to panic.

Patrol boats pulled them from the water and lifeguards did CPR until the pair were taken to Auckland City Hospital one in a serious condition, the other critical.

At South Auckland's Hunua Falls, an 18-year-old man nearly drowned about 1pm.

A 14-year-old girl nearly drowned at Maraetai in southeast Auckland at 12.20pm. She is in a stable condition.

The incidents come amid a horror summer in New Zealand's waters. During the official Christmas holiday period, seven people drowned. On Boxing Day, 12-year-old Jack Martin was killed when he was hit by a vessel on Blue Lake in Central Otago while riding an inflatable sea biscuit.

Since the start of this year, 15 people have drowned, including a 20-year-old man who failed to surface after jumping off a waterfall at a Kerikeri swimming hole; Hiva Lavaka, 24, who drowned in the surf at Hot Water Beach, and a 28-year-old man who was swept out to sea off Kawhia.

A man got into difficulty while swimming in the Kaituna River and disappeared underwater. Photo / Stephen Park, Rotorua Daily Post
A man got into difficulty while swimming in the Kaituna River and disappeared underwater. Photo / Stephen Park, Rotorua Daily Post

Water safety expert Kevin Moran of Auckland University said the fact all but one of the people involved in yesterday's incidents were male came as no surprise. In NZ, 80 per cent of all drownings are men, almost all aged between 15 and 45.

Dr Moran, who has been a surf lifeguard for almost 50 years and still patrols Muriwai Beach, said it came down to two critical combinations the underestimation of risk and the overestimation of ability. This was "primarily a male disease".

This was only exacerbated by the country having a particularly hot summer, he said.

"The more recreational time we have, the more likely we are to be in and around water, and given our aquatic lifestyle, that's what people are attracted to."

Figures from Water Safety New Zealand show 80 per cent of all drowning victims are men. Our high rate of adult male deaths bucks the global trend, which has under-5-year-olds as the main victims.

Dr Moran wanted education targeting both young and adult males about the dangers of the water. Migrants and tourists also needed to be taught about the risks because they often came to New Zealand from places without beaches or waterways.

At Muriwai in northwest Auckland, two Koreans, aged 16 and 17, nearly drowned. Photo / Jason Oxenham
At Muriwai in northwest Auckland, two Koreans, aged 16 and 17, nearly drowned. Photo / Jason Oxenham

"It starts with education, but it's more than just teaching kids to swim ... We have to tell them, 'You're not as good as you think you are or you're not aware of the risks'.

"Because the system in place now isn't working," Dr Moran said.

With its 11,000km of coastline, 525,000km of rivers and 3820 lakes, New Zealand has long had a tumultuous relationship with water.

By 1870, just a few decades after the arrival of European settlers, rivers had been responsible for 1115 recorded drownings, and drowning became known by British newspapers as "the New Zealand death".

A Water Safety spokeswoman said a cultural change was needed men, in particular, needed to stop and think before getting in the water.

If people did simple things like swimming between the flags and wearing lifejackets while boating, drowning statistics would fall.

Fishing trip turns to rocky rescue

The rescue of two visitors stranded by the high tide while fishing off rocks has prompted a police warning for people to keep a close eye on sea conditions. Photo / Supplied
The rescue of two visitors stranded by the high tide while fishing off rocks has prompted a police warning for people to keep a close eye on sea conditions. Photo / Supplied

The rescue of two visitors stranded by the high tide while fishing off rocks has prompted a police warning for people to keep a close eye on sea conditions.

A 36-year-old man and a 27-year-old woman, both from Auckland, struck trouble about 6.30pm on Sunday while fishing off rocks at the northern end of Langs' Beach near Waipu. With the waves crashing on to the rocks they used a cellphone to call 111.

Two fire crews from Waipu went to the rescue.

Waipu police Senior Constable Martin Geddes called on people to have "commonsense", especially when sea conditions were rough.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 30 Sep 2016 00:25:00 Processing Time: 662ms