With a rising drowning toll, beach safety is vitally important, as students from Weber School discovered last week at Akitio Beach.

"To see them all out there learning from lifesavers, was sensational," Masterton's Chris Horrocks said.

Mr Horrocks has a home at the beach and at one time was a lifeguard at Orewa.

"It was absolutely unreal to see all the kids and the adults taking in the swim-safe messages. Coming into summer, this is great," he said.

The Weber School children, aged from 5 to 13 years, participated in the beach education programme, with support from teachers, parents and lifeguards from Surf Lifesaving New Zealand, Weber principal Janine Satchwell said.


"We started our day at school where the children were introduced to beach safety aspects, such as swimming between the flags, staying in view of lifeguards, being sun smart and water safety tips such as putting your hand up if in trouble, identifying rips and always swimming with an adult present," she said.

"Then the whole school headed out to Akitio Beach where we rotated around activities on the sand, such as creating a rip effect, using a flotation device to rescue someone and competing in beach flag sprints."

After lunch the children then hit the water.

"Parents made a human safety net and the students built water confidence in the waves, practised floating on their backs and hit the boogie boards.

"It was an excellent day where the students learned so much and gained valuable confidence in the water.

"They are now ready for summer," Mrs Satchwell said.

Drowning on the up:

• Provision statistics from Water Safety New Zealand reveal 108 people drowned last year.

• 78 of those deaths were preventable drownings.

• This year as at December 11, 82 people have drowned, compared to 69 at the same time last year.