Watersafe2012-1197

New Zealand is still in the unenviable position of having one of the higher drowning rates (*2.0) per capita in the OECD, approximately twice that of Australia. On this page we touch on some key statistics for New Zealand as a whole, with more specific regional data the Auckland Region. This data is sourced from DrownBase, managed by Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) and is provisional, due to availability of police / coroner’s reports.

2017 – Provisional Preventable Drowning Fatalities

Water Safety New Zealand reports 88 preventable* drowning deaths in New Zealand, comprising: 

  • Age: Under fives – 7 (8%), 05-14 years – 2 (2%), 15-24 years – 15 (17%), 25-34 years – 14 (16%), 35-44 years – 13 (15%), 45 – 54 years – 12 (14%), 55-64 years – 9 (10%), 65+ years – 16 (18%).
  • Gender: Males – 69 (78%)
  • Ethnicity: NZ European – 48 (54%), Maori – 15 (17%), Pacific – 6 (7%), Asian – 11 (13%)
  • Environment: Rivers – 13 (15%), tidal waters – 11 (13%), offshore – 20 (23%), beaches – 14 (16%), home pools – 8 (9%), domestic – 7 (8%), inland still waters – 13 (15%), public pools – 2 (2%)
  • Region: Auckland experienced 22 preventable drownings, one quarter of the total drowning toll.

Of note is that although Auckland experienced twice as many preventable drownings as the year before, the rate of drowning in the Auckland region (1.3) remains one of the lowest in the country. The dramatic increase in the ages of under five years and over 65 years is concerning and will need to be monitored for any future trends. 

*Preventable drownings include recreational and non-recreational deaths, considered applicable to the prevention and rescue effort of the water safety sector. 

2016

WSNZ reports that 108 lives were lost as a result of drowning in 2016, 5 less than in 2015 (113).

  • 78 (72%) of these were considered preventable.
  • Age: Under fives (3, 4%), 05-14 years (3, 4%), 15-24 years – 14 (18%), 25-34 years – 11 (14%), 35-44 years – 11 (14%), 45 – 54 years – 12 (15%), 55-64 years – 11 (14%), 65+ years – 8 (10%).
  • Gender: Males – 65 (83%)
  • Ethnicity: NZ European – 33 (42%), Maori – 17 (22%), Pacific – 13 (17%), Asian – 3 (4%)
  • Environment: Rivers – 23 (29%), tidal waters – 11 (14%), offshore – 11 (14%), beaches – 21 (27%), home pools – 1 (1%), domestic – 2 (2%), inland still waters – 1 (1%), public pools – 3 (4%)
  • Activity (recreational): Swimming 27%, powered boat 17%
  • Activity (non-recreational): Immersion 28% (where victim did not intend to be in the water).
  • Auckland: 17 preventable drowning deaths; drowning rate of 0.8 per capita*, less than half the NZ per capita rate of 1.9 for the year. 

    *Per capita = per 100,000 people

Source:
Drowning statistics from DrownBase, the official drowning database of Water Safety New Zealand. Further information is available from their website.