A decrease in the number of drownings doesn't surprise Wanganui Surf Lifesaving Club, which is making a big effort to increase awareness in the district.

Water Safety New Zealand has released its 2018 Drowning Report which showed the number of preventable drownings dropped 27 per cent compared 2017, with 66 preventable drownings recorded nationally in 2018.

It is the second lowest drowning toll since 2010, when 65 people died within the year.

However, hospitalisations increased 34 per cent nationally in 2018, and 13 per cent on the 2013 – 2017 five-year average.


Whanganui recorded no deaths due to drowning in 2018, the same result as the previous year.

There was one hospitalisation in the district in 2018, with none recorded in 2017.

Wanganui Surf Lifesaving Club spokesman Daniel Comp said the numbers could be put down to the club's push for water safety awareness in the community and a drive to educate locals specifically about the beaches they use.

"We get our messages out through social media and it's quite generic across the board with surf safety rules, but we also educate people in detail about the local areas and the conditions," he said.

"A lot of it is just preventive action too, if someone is swimming at the beach and drifting outside the flags towards a rip, the lifeguards will give a bit of advice to them and get on to it before anything worse happens.

"Our role is to save lives but we're educators also."

Water Safety New Zealand records show the Rangitikei district had no preventable drowning deaths and two hospitalisations in 2018, an increase on the one hospitalisation in 2017.

In January 2018 police found the body of Valentino Malo, who died while swimming in the Rangitikei River, which Water Safety New Zealand classes as the Manawatu district.


Earlier this year police recovered the body of a 20-year-old man who went missing in the Whanganui River.