A water safety campaigner is calling for consistent safety signs across the Far North after three were installed at Doubtless Bay last month.
Doubtless Bay resident Pat Millar lost her whānau member, Palmerston North man Wairongoa Clarence Renata after he drowned trying to save his daughter at Cable Bay in 2018.
Millar started charity Operation Flotation after Renata's tragic drowning and successfully campaigned to get flotation devices installed at 17 Northland beaches.
In April, the coroner recommended the Far North District Council put water safety signs at three popular Doubtless Bay beaches.
The Te reo Māori and English signs at Cable Bay, Coopers Beach and Taipā are close to surf life saving equipment or the main approaches to beaches.
Millar said although the signs were a good start, she was concerned they weren't consistent with other Surf Life Saving New Zealand water safety signs.
"We need to educate locals as well as people coming here from around New Zealand who might think the beach looks safe, when in fact it can be quite dangerous.
"For example, the signs Cable Bay and Coopers Beach are the same, but the beach at Cable Bay is far more dangerous, so I'm wondering who assessed them.
"They're also different to the signs you would see at Piha, which shows you in detail the hazards at that particular beach and were approved by Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) and Auckland City Council.
"The signs need to be uniform and meet the national standards.
"As far as I'm aware the council intends to roll this out around the Far North, so we have an opportunity now to do this right, so let's do it."
According to FNDC, the council had no statutory responsibilities to mitigate water safety risks nor were its staff qualified to make those assessments.
It did however acknowledge a gap in information available to beachgoers visiting unpatrolled beaches and has created a website dedicated to water safety in the region.
It has also attached warning symbols to existing reserve signs as an extra precaution.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) national coastal safety manager Dr Mick Kearney echoed Millar's concern and said incorrect signs could risk further drownings.
"We are pleased to see the Far North District Council has introduced beach safety signage as an important preventative measure to reduce coastal drownings," Kearney said.
"Our chief concern is that the current initiative does not align with the New Zealand standard and this poses an inherent risk to the community.
"We are currently working with the council and other Northland authorities so that we can all have signage that adheres to the appropriate standard."
In addition to the safety standards, a potential error on the signs about "deep shelving" at Coopers Beach and Taipā has also been questioned by the Te Hiku Community Board.
FNDC facility operations team leader Nine Gobie said the council was looking into the issue.
"We are currently seeking expert confirmation about 'deep shelving' at these beaches and where the wording is incorrect or misleading, we will replace the signs.
"We aim to have new signs in place before the summer holiday season."