This summer NZME is helping Surf Life Saving to help save lives. The charity relies on the goodwill of thousands of volunteers, fundraising, grants and sponsorship to keep our beaches patrolled. Here's your chance to help raise money for new equipment and lifeguard training.
An elderly Auckland woman has been confirmed as the sixth drowning victim from the holiday period.
Verna Dawn Latimer, aged 86, died suddenly on Boxing Day at an Auckland retirement village.
St John said they received a call at 9.19pm on December 26 to attend a water incident at the facility, and sent one ambulance crew.
Police confirmed an 86-year-old woman's death had been referred to the coroner, while a Water Safety NZ spokesman confirmed the death was included in the country's official holiday drowning toll.
BETWEEN THE FLAGS: An NZME summer campaign
READ MORE: New Surf Life Saving facilities for Baylys Beach could be ready by April
READ MORE: Why isn't this essential service funded?
READ MORE: Lifeguard rescues two young girls from heavy surf
READ MORE: It costs a young lifeguard $50 every time she does a weekend patrol
READ MORE: We take a look at how much essential live saving gear really costs
READ MORE: 10 tips to ensure you safely enjoy the sun and surf this summer
The retirement village's general manager said her team had "co-operated and continue to work closely with the police" since the incident.
"We have been advised that there are ongoing Coronial proceedings," she said.
"Accordingly and out of respect for the family concerned we are not able to make any further comment."
Latimer's death comes as five other families also mourned five drowning victims over the official 2019-20 holiday period - two more water-related deaths than this time last year.
Water Safety NZ has released the preliminary figure for the preventable fatal drowning toll over the official holidays, which ran from 4pm on Christmas Eve to 6am on Friday.
The drowning deaths also included a man who got into trouble while crab fishing at Uretiti Beach, south of Whāngārei, about 10am on Christmas Day.
• Our grim toll: Drowning deaths reach four in three days
• NZ drowning toll at second lowest in 20 years, but still concerning, Water Safety NZ says
• Far North drowning tragedy: Coastguard volunteer's desperate bid to save woman's life after boat flipped
• Toddler dies on Christmas Eve after drowning incident at his Christchurch home
He was pulled from the water at 12pm.
A few hours later, about 3pm, a person died while snorkelling at Kai Iwi Lakes, north of Dargaville.
On Boxing Day, a 60-year-old swimmer died at Onemana Beach - 10km north of Whangamatā.
The next day, a woman in her 60s died after a boat capsized in the Houhora Harbour, in the Far North. Emergency services were called there just after 11am.
On New Year's Day, a 70-year-old man drowned near a boat ramp on Beach Rd, in Whangamatā, at 3pm.