A council bylaw making the wearing of lifejackets compulsory on small boats is about the changing face of Auckland, says Watersafe Auckland chief executive Sandra Harrop.

"We're looking for a law that is for a new Auckland. We're not looking for a law for those old guys," she said yesterday.

Ms Harrop said boaties had to get over the Kiwi attitude of not wanting to be told what to do and see that Auckland was becoming a city of people born overseas who came to New Zealand for the lifestyle.

That was manifested, she said, in the drowning at the weekend of an Asian father and daughter on Lake Tarawera when their kayak capsized. The father, Zoujie Cai, was not wearing a lifejacket and his daughter Zexuan Cai, 6, was wearing an adult lifejacket.


This view was challenged by Auckland Yachting and Boating Association spokesman Richard Brown, who said the Lake Tarawera tragedy was a classic case of the need for water safety education.

He said there was a bylaw in place for lifejackets to be worn at all times on the lake, but the "new arrival" didn't know.

During a presentation to the council's regulatory and bylaw committee yesterday, Mr Brown stressed better education of boaties as the best way of reducing boating-related drownings. His association believes boat skippers are capable of deciding when a lifejacket should be worn.

"Why do we have to pay the price because new people arriving [in New Zealand] don't have those skills?" he said.

The committee passed the first stage of a new bylaw to make wearing lifejackets compulsory in boats of less than 6m at all times, with some exceptions.

Safety first
* Lifejacket proposal: Compulsory wearing of lifejackets on boats less than 6m at all times, including when at anchor.

* Current rules: Boats must carry lifejackets for everyone on board; they must be worn on instructions of skipper.