New signs should be placed around a popular swimming spot after a man drowned trying to save his son, a coroner says.

Myungsoo Shin, a Korean national living in Tauranga, died at Rere Rockslide at Gisborne in May last year.

Mr Shin, his wife Soyong Lee, and their two children, aged 9 and 4, were visiting the area with friends at the time.

In a decision released today, coroner Tim Scott called for "a much stronger warning" to be placed at the pool and on a website which advertised it, and where it is believed Mr Shin and his family learned about the spot.


"I think this warning should include a brief reference to the fact that a drowning has occurred at this location, and that accordingly considerable caution needs to be exercised when swimming or using the rockslide," coroner Scott said.

"I do not want to be a killjoy, but I think people likely to use the rockslide or the pool are entitled to know that there is a danger and that someone lost their life there."

Mr Shin's eldest son and an 8-year-old boy from the other family went down the slide on the afternoon of May 18, 2014, but got into trouble in the pool where they landed in water which was deeper than expected.

It was over the children's heads, and Mr Shin's son could not swim.

The water in the pool was later calculated by police to be around 1 to 3 metres deep.

Mr Shin and the father of the other child, Jinahee Choi Weon Wook Lee, went into the pool to help the two boys. Mr Lee said he could not swim but walked in up to his chest and his son was able to swim over to him, and they left the pool together.

Mr Shin, who was described as a good swimmer, went over to his son who was further out in the pool than the other boy.

Mr Lee said he thought "everyone was safe", because he saw Mr Shin holding his son with both hands. But when he looked around again Mr Shin had disappeared.


Mr Lee and his wife Jin Hee Choi were able to get the boy out of the pool, but did not see Mr Shin again.

Later that day a member of the police dive squad located Mr Shin around 25 metres from the western side of the pool in 2.3 metres of water. A post-mortem examination later confirmed he had drowned.

Coroner Scott described the incident as "simply unfortunate and bad luck".

"There are risks associated with doing almost anything. It would be a sad day - and an unrealistic day - if gross restrictions were placed upon people having fun. I don't want to be a party to that," Mr Scott said.

"It does not seem to me that there is anything particularly dangerous about the Rere Falls or the rockslide. I do not think these two families did anything particularly extreme or unusual."

He made no formal recommendations, but suggested the local authority improve its signage to include a stronger warning to potential swimmers.