Key Points:

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) says it will work to address the growing number of recreational-based drowning deaths amongst Maori and Pacific Islanders.

Both are over-represented in recreational drowning statistics, with two thirds of all Maori and Pacific drowning deaths recreational based.

Only a quarter of New Zealand Europeans who drown do so whilst participating in recreational activity.

WSNZ general manager Matt Claridge said many of the drowning deaths amongst Maori and Pacific Islanders involved the gathering of seafood.

The increasing numbers of recreational-based drowning deaths amongst Maori and Pacific communities was an area WSNZ would seek to address, he said.

The organisation was also working to enhance the Swim For Life, campaign aimed at encouraging all New Zealand children to develop swim and survival skills.

Market research showed the level of awareness around drowning as a social issue in New Zealand was low, Mr Claridge said.

Drowning statistics for the year to date released today show there were five drowning deaths during the month of June, raising the 2007 drowning toll to 53.

At the same time last year a record low of 46 drowning deaths had occurred in New Zealand, on the way to a record low annual toll of 89.

There have been 24 recreational related drowning deaths this year along with a further 29 non-recreational drowning deaths.

- NZPA