Transport Minister Michael Wood says he will consider the latest call to make the wearing of lifejackets compulsory on small boats following a Coroner's report into the drowning of a teenager in 2016.
Coroner Robin Kay found Matt Smith was not wearing a lifejacket and drowned after the 5.3m aluminium boat he was in was hit by a large wave off the coast of New Plymouth in 2016.
He recommended to Wood to consider changing the law to make lifejackets compulsory on boats 6m or less in length, saying several coronial inquiries have recommended this to reduce the number of boat-related drownings in New Zealand.
In a statement, Wood said he will take the recommendation seriously and consider the issue.
"Many regional councils already have bylaws in place requiring that lifejackets be worn. Despite this, drowning is the leading cause of recreational death and the third highest cause of accidental death."
Smith and close friend Brett Collett headed out from Port Taranaki on August 16 in rough sea conditions to pull up some crayfish pots.
As they got close to the location of the pots the pair noticed a large wave approaching the boat, they pointed the nose of the boat into the wave, but it increased in size and flipped the boat end-over-end.
The boat had lifejackets on board, but the two men were not wearing them at the time. Dressed in their clothes they swam in the direction of Paritutu Rock where Collett made land and lost contact with Smith.
Despite an extensive sea and land search, Smith's body has never been found and the Coroner concluded he died from drowning.
Currently, Maritime New Zealand's Safer Boating Guide only recommends people "should" wear lifejackets on boats of less than 6m in length.
The guide says: "Most accidents occur suddenly, with no warning - there may be no time to grab a lifejacket, and it is extremely difficult to put on a lifejacket in the water. Many boaties drown less than 200m from shore."
The Coroner said in 2010 Maritime NZ proposed making lifejackets compulsory on small boats, but the Government at the time decided not to amend the rules, although some regional authorities brought in bylaws to reflect the proposal.