The number of drownings in New Zealand has increased dramatically this year according to preliminary figures.
21 people drowned in the month of January, compared to 10 in the same month last year.
According to the figures 61 people have drowned in NZ waters this year up by a third since last year and the highest toll since 2011.
Matt Claridge the CEO of Water Safety New Zealand says,“The year got off to a poor start and it hasn’t improved. We’re acutely aware that 61 families are mourning the loss of a loved one, in what are mainly preventable drownings. And we’re only half way through the year.”
Rivers claimed the most lives with 17 deaths occurring there – the highest number in five years. Fifteen people died at beaches, up from just six at the same time last year.
A further 16 deaths occurred as a result of ‘other events’ such as motor vehicle accidents, suicides or homicides. 14 of the victims who have drowned so far this year were Māori.
The water safety sector will release a collaborative plan later this year in the hope of reducing the number of drownings.
Mett Claridge says, “If we can get people thinking about the way they keep themselves safe around water we will be well on our way to reducing the number of New Zealanders drowning.”