You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

More money needed for water safety: lobby

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/02/2017

A man's death at a Northland beach while his pregnant fiancee watched powerless to save him highlights the need for improved water safety education, a lobby group says.

Hong Nghe and two others had been attempting to check a crab pot off Ruakaka Beach on Monday when they were swept out to sea shortly before 6pm.

The men were found and ferried to shore but despite attempts to revive Mr Nghe, he died at the scene.

NZME reports Mr Nghe's fiancee, who had been living with him in Auckland, watched the entire incident as he became the fourth man of Asian descent to drown on the stretch of beach while crabbing since 2011.

His death also comes as Northland had the highest rate of drownings in New Zealand in 2016 with 10.9 preventable deaths per 100,000 people.

Across the country, there was 81 preventable drownings last year.

WaterSafe Auckland chief executive Jonathon Webber says spending more on water safety, especially for education programs among migrant communities, would reduce the toll.

He said compared to the "hundreds of millions" spent on road safety, it was lucky if "a couple of million dollars" was spent on water safety.

This was despite his group estimating a drowning death to cost $3.9 million per person and a water related hospitalisation to cost almost $400,000.

"So it is a big cost to society, not to mention the risks involved in undertaking water rescues," he said.

He said money used to promote water safety was well spent.

His team estimated the death toll from preventable drownings could exceed the nation's road toll if investments in lifeguards and rescue helicopters had not been made.

To complement the work of lifeguards and medic, he said more should be spent educating new migrants because many were taking up water pursuits giving the country's easy access to beaches and waterways.

"And it is not just in relation to crab fishing, it is for rock fishing, boating, swimming - anything that is water related," he said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon