It is hoped an incident on the Aniwhenua section of the Rangitaiki River involving recreational paddlers and a commercial jetboat operator will open doors to water safety talks before local bylaws are reviewed in July.

On Sunday, experienced kayaker and stand-up paddle-boarder Bruce Webber was joined by 12 others for a paddle.

"We had adults and three youngsters on sit-on kayaks, whitewater kayaks or stand-up-paddle boards," Mr Webber said.

Mr Webber said Bill Roberts from Kiwi Jet Boats Tours stopped as he went up river and acknowledged the group. However, it was the down-river journey that left the group angry. "We heard him coming and moved over to the side of the narrow stretch of water, but he flew past with only a few metres separating us. The wake from the boat washed some of the crew on to the bank," Mr Webber said.


"Experienced paddlers know to turn their board or kayak into the wake but there's a lot of people, young ones in particular, who don't."

Mr Webber took footage of the jetboat going past while Lee Laughton, who was wearing a Go Pro, also captured the action. Both have been uploaded to Facebook.

The footage has been shared and viewed hundreds of times, with mixed reactions from social networkers. Most have suggested reporting the matter to the harbourmaster, while others said they have never had a problem with Kiwi Jet Boat Tours or any other commercial operators on the river.

Mr Roberts said facts about the incident had been distorted and he was also in talks with the harbourmaster. "I've been operating on the Rangitaiki River for the past 40 years without incident," Mr Roberts said. "On Sunday, I stopped and talked to the kayakers and told them I would be back down river in 10 minutes or so."

He described the Aniwhenua section as difficult, with numerous rapids and protruding rocks. "To hit any of those rocks and flip the boat would be disastrous," Mr Roberts said. "There are often times on the water when I have to make instant decisions and the safety of all water-users are paramount when I make them."

Mr Roberts said he had received a call from Mr Laughton following the incident but was unhappy to see all of the negatives taken from the conversation and posted to Facebook.

Harbourmaster Peter Buell said the Navigational Safety Bylaw was up for review in July. "I've spoken to both parties involved in Sunday's incident and suggested to both, they take the opportunity to suggest what they would like to see in the bylaw and make a submission," Mr Buell said.

"There are specific areas [of water] that have specific rules and, if people believed certain areas needed their own rules, they could submit what they think the rules should be."


Mr Buell said Sunday's incident was being looked at. "However, since one of the parties involved is a commercial operation, Maritime New Zealand will be taking the lead."