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Water Safety New Zealand

2024 DROWNING FATAILITIES TO DATE

39

This is the provisional fatal drowning total for 2024 year to date.

THIS TIME LAST YEAR

56

Is the number of drownings recorded at the same time in 2023. Note: This includes six drowning deaths due to Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023.

2023 / 24  SUMMER DROWNINGS

29

01 December to 29 February.
 

2023 PROVISIONAL DROWNING FATALITIES

90

is the number of Preventable drowning fatalities in the 2023 calendar year. Note: This includes six drowning deaths due to Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023.

2022 / 23 SUMMER DROWNINGS

49

01 December to 28 February.

Note: This includes six drowning deaths due to Cyclone Gabrielle in February 2023.

MALE DROWNINGS

83%

As a gender split, 83% of 2023 drowning fatalities were male. 17% were female.  

Current Numbers

Last updated 19/07/2024 1400

2021 Drowning Report

91 Fatalities

In 2021 there were 91 recreational (intending to be in the water) and non-recreational (no intention of being in the water) preventable drowning fatalities. This is a per 100,000 population rate of 1.76, up from the five year average of 1.67. Preventable fatalities in 2021 increased by 7% on 2020 (84) and 13% on the five year average (80). 2021 had the highest number of preventable drowning deaths since 2011.

Highest Risk

Older Males 55+ 

In 2021, Maori, Asian and NZ European drowning deaths of males aged 55+ were the highest numbers on record. Older males fatalities and incidents occur largely when boating. It is more likely to be powered boating than sail, oar or paddlecraft. The people involved are more likely to be NZ European and live in the upper North Island. 

Youth at Risk

Rivers 

25% of young New Zealanders think that rivers are “not very hazardous” or “not at all hazardous”. River fatalities are commonly 15-34 years of age, but incidents show a large amount between 9-14 years. There are a high number of river incidents during the summer and Waitangi Day is the day of the year that the most incidents occur. 

Underwater

Kai Gathering

Usually Maori, always male, with an average age around 40. Can be anywhere around the coast of NZ. Typically they are free diving or snorkelling. SCUBA is relatively uncommon.

Kai Gathering

Rock Fishing

Usually male, often Asian, average age 45, and often living in Auckland or the Waikato. Typically they are at the beach (salt water), fishing from rocks, often as part of a group. Then they are swept away by a wave or fall off a rock into the water, cannot get back to land, and drown. Often they are not competent swimmers. Almost inevitably they do not have a life jacket. 

Our Promise

We pledge to use data-driven insights in all aspects of our organisation.

New Zealand has a high fatal drowning rate compared to other Western nations such as Australia, Canada and the UK. For the past ten years our rate has been 1.68 per 100,000 of population and for 2023 is 1.72. In comparison, Australia's per capita rate is 1.1 and Canada's 1.3.

Current Numbers

2023 DROWNING FATAILITIES TO DATE

14

There have been 14 official drownings to date in 2023. This number is updated weekly.

2022 DROWNING FATALITIES

93

There were 93 official preventable drowning fatalities in the 2022 calendar year.

2023 SUMMER DROWNINGS

14

There have been 14 official drownings to date in the 2023 summer period. 

2021 DROWNING FATALITIES

90

There were 90 official preventable drowning fatalities in the 2021 calendar year.

MALE DROWNINGS

85%

As a gender split, 84.95% of 2022 drowning fatalities were male. 15.05% were female.  

2020 DROWNING FATALITIES

84

There were 84 official preventable drowning fatalities in the 2021 calendar year.

Current Trends and Metrics

Open Data Sets

Water Safety New Zealand data is being released in an open format in line with Open and Transparent Government principles. The data  is updated yearly, so data is accurate as at the end of the calendar year previous to when it’s accessed. 

1980 - 2022 Raw Data (.csv)

365 kb

Data Requests

We pledge to use data-driven insights in all aspects of our organisation.

Do you have a request for data or insights that are best answered by our expert teams. This service is available for all New Zealanders, with response times prioritised to best service our partner organisations.

Request Form

Thanks for submitting, we'll be in touch as soon as your insights are available.

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