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Water Safety New Zealand

History says that more people will drown this Waitangi weekend than any other weekend.

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

3rd February 2023



• Waitangi weekend is a time many of us spend in, on and around water. Historically this makes it one of our deadliest weekends for drownings.

• Data suggests this Waitangi weekend will generate a spike in drownings, at beaches by all age groups and in rivers by those under the age of 35.


• Water Safety New Zealand are requesting the support of any media to please share stories, safety tips or important messages. It will save lives. 


Nobody plans to drown. But history and data tell us that this Waitangi weekend will be one of the deadliest for drownings unless people do the simple things better.

Just as we saw in mid-January, extended periods of bad weather followed by clear skies seem to be a tragic recipe for drownings. Water Safety New Zealand are expecting this may be exacerbated by the recent bad weather in the North Island.


As a result, More people will want to spend increased time in, on and around the water this weekend. Tragically this will cost some people their lives.

Make the most of this time with friends and whanau, but remember that your actions and decisions will keep you safe when in, on and around the water.


Simple things will save your life


Plan where to go – Choose places that suit your ability, that you are familiar with and, that are suitable for the expected weather. Choose beaches patrolled by lifeguards and swim between the flags.


Check the conditions before going in - Assume that recent weather may have changed your favourite spot, and conditions may not be as you have experienced. Ask around, Is it deep enough? Is there anything underwater that you could be caught in? What is the current doing?


Don’t be that guy - Know your limits. Wear a life jacket. Take a mate with you. Make the decision you would want your kids to make. It really is that simple to stay alive.


“Be prepared, know the risks and your limits, and watch out for yourself and others,” Daniel Gerrard says.





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