How to stay water safe this summer

How to stay water safe this summer

Westhaven, Auckland – Drowning Prevention Auckland, the lead agency for water safety coordination and education in the Auckland region, wants to share its four main messages to remember this summer.

Sadly, in 2017 22 people died in preventable drowning incidents in Auckland, double that of 2016. Most (68%) of the drownings in Auckland were male, and almost a quarter (23%) each were aged 15-24 years and over 65 years. 

Over half (55%) of the drownings were immersion incidents where people hadn’t intended being in the water. The highest environmental risk in Auckland is beaches where almost one quarter (23%) of drownings occurred. The rate of drowning in the Auckland region at (1.7 per capita) remains one of the lowest in the country. [1]

There have been 12 preventable* drowning deaths in Auckland in the year to December 7, 2018, as per the Water Safety New Zealand report.

Our vision is an Auckland, free from drowning, achieved through the development of water competence and changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around water.

The four main messages we suggest all Aucklander’s remember this summer are:

  1. Don’t putyour life on the line, wear a LIFEJACKET.
    Lifejackets are essential for all recreational activities on the water. Everyone on board a boat 6 metres and under should wear a lifejacket. Make sure the lifejacket fits you correctly. Adults wearing lifejackets in front of the children sets a good example.

  2. Reach me, See me, Hear me.
    Active supervision of children at all times is crucial to prevent drownings from happening. Active supervision means children are within sight and reach and the supervisor isn’t distracted. Add other layers of protection such as pool fences and gates or eliminating the risk by emptying paddling pools after use.
    Chief executive of Drowning Prevention Auckland, Davin Bray has said “drowning is silent – there is no splash or scream to alert you. As a father I know how quickly things can happen with children, who are inquisitive and naturally drawn to water”.

  3. Don’t underestimate the risks, don’t overestimate your ability
    Know your limits. Don’t assume your level of competence in the pool is the same in moving, cold open water.

  4. 4Rs Bystander Rescue = Recognise, Respond, Rescue,Revive.
    Recognise: Drowning occurs quietly so its important to recognise when someone is in trouble. Look for signs of distress,like they can’t swim or they look afraid or like they are struggling. Shout“Are you ok”. Ask yourself how you think you can help. Also think, how can others help.
    Respond: If the person needs help, provide flotation. Send for help, get someone to call 111 and ask for police.
    Rescue: Rescuing from land is the safest. Getting in the water puts the rescuer at risk of drowning themselves. If there is no other option, remember to take a flotation aid. Stay clear of the person – a drowning person can easily drag you under. Often reassurance and encouragement to kick, float on their back or swim to safety can work.
    Revive: Provide care to rescued person. If the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally start CPR. If breathing, keep airway clear and put in recovery position. Stay until help arrives. Ensure the person gets medical attention.

For further questions, please contact:

[1] WSNZ (2018). Drownbase. New Zealand and Auckland Region Preventable and Non Preventable Drowning Fatalities 2013-2017.

Press Release: Drowning Prevention Auckland launches brand new website and a New Zealand first eLearning platform

Press Release: Drowning Prevention Auckland launches brand new website and a New Zealand first eLearning platform


Westhaven, Auckland – Drowning Prevention Auckland with 360 New Zealand’s expertise have developed a New Zealand first eLearning platform for water safety and have updated their website. The online programme allows participants to learn about the basic water competencies from anywhere in the world, free of charge.

The aim of our eLearning platform is to increase the understanding and knowledge of water safety, as well as assist in the development of practical skills, within the community, workplace and school. Participants can acquaint themselves with competencies before practising in a pool or open water. The area of focus for this online programme has enormous potential as it is designed to suit a range of participants.  The current eLearning programme is designed for teenagers, adults, parents and educators.

We captured video footage in three separate water environments – controlled water, open water and moving water. The eLearning platform has modules relating to the unique 15 water competencies as per research conducted by Stallman, R.K., Moran, K., Quan, L., & Langendorfer, S. (2017). Learners can complete a variety of tasks within each module. The tasks have student activities, teaching resources and videos that demonstrate the competency.

The interactive platform allows for sustainable learning, overall consistency of education and a free online tool accessible to all.

The eLearning platform is a sustainable form of aquatic education accessible to many people; whilst not replacing practical learning. It is another tool that aids in drowning prevention education. Drowning Prevention Auckland will continue to develop this online learning experience by including further resources and guides that link to the 15 water competencies.

Drowning Prevention Auckland’s Chief Executive; Davin Bray says that the eLearning platform has been a lot of work in the making and is glad that it has culminated in a New Zealand first. He continues to say there are so many benefits to the platform including the fact that we can educate so many more people with our consistent messages.

For further questions, please contact:



This scholarship is attached to a Water Safety New Zealand funded study that is focused on understanding how different factors contribute to drowning risk for different individuals and groups and aims to ensure the water safety sector can:

  • design interventions that will result in meaningful change to a person’s behaviour that will lower their drowning risk
  • target interventions at the individuals who we have identified as at highest risk of drowning.

Water Safety New Zealand are interested in research in relation to targeted communities or groups who have a specific risk profile. Therefore, research on risk should be considered within the context of the specific environment or communities of interest.

Communities of Interest

For the purposes of this research, Water Safety New Zealand are interested in research on People and Prevention within the Auckland or Northland region. The research topic should include one of the following communities of interest:


  • Males aged 45+ with an emphasis in Northland on males aged 65+ years
  • Pacific People
  • Maori
  • New migrants, tourists and visitors to New Zealand


  • Salt water environments Beaches, Offshore and Tidal waters
  • Home pools


  • Immersion incidents (incidents where the deceased never intended on getting into the water),
  • Powered boats, swimming and underwater activities (diving) are the most common activities.

The research project will be supervised by Dr Denise Atkins – Email: and Dr Matt Barker email: – School of Sport and Recreation.


Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria as set out in the Scholarship Regulations and apply online via the application portal available from the AUT Scholarships database

Closing date: 18 January 2019

Water Safety Champions Awards 2018

Water Safety Champions Awards 2018

Our Water Safety Champion Awards, recognising organisations, community groups and individuals that have demonstrated commitment, initiative and leadership in the ‘championing’ of water safety education in the Auckland region. This could include delivering water safety education, creating or implementing solutions that address specific behaviours or problems, or raise awareness around a specific drowning issue.

Congratulations to all that got nominated, were finalists and winners of the Water Safety Champion Awards this year.

Individual Water Safety Champion           

  • David Zhu
    In this past year David has contributed to water safety in the following ways:
    – Collaborated with DPA on various water safety programs and presentations focussed the North Shore Chinese community. These presentations included Rock Fishing seminars, mum and kids water safety workshops, learn to surf and he helped us deliver our west coast experience to Chinese youth.
    – David also helped us interpreting to the Chinese community
  • Gill Bloxham
    Gill has been instrumental in improving both her students at Rutherford college’s knowledge and understanding about water safety but also the community.
    In order to get the school pool used more she also asked DPA to train her junior sports committee so she could use both junior and senior sports committee members to supervise free swimming at lunchtimes at the school.
    Gill has been instrumental in a number of her students getting qualified with their PLPC during the school holidays through the Gateway programme. All in the hopes of making opening the school pool to the community over the summer months a possibility and using students as lifeguards to lead this.
  • Kaleb Cave
    Kaleb is the Manukau Cruising Clubs new Fishing Captain this year and he comes with a passion at getting kids outdoors with their families and into fishing .
    Kaleb’s key message is keeping our tamariki safe , healthy and happy and is a champion in promoting water safety around land based fishing .
    He is also actively promotes water safety in his land based fishing excursions with adult groups.
  • Geoffrey Bray
    Sgt Geoff Bray of the NZ Police National Dive Squad has been active in drowning prevention for over eight years.
    He spends a huge amount of his personal time volunteering assisting charities and community members with river safety training. You can find him on his days off helping out at Vector Wero, giving advice to staff and to other stakeholders across the region.
    He also is on the global board (voluntary) for the International Technical Rescue Association and an instructor for this organisation. He is active in talking to fellow divers about diver safety which actively contributes to drowning prevention.

Winner: Geoffrey Bray



Community Water Safety Champion

  • AUT Millennium
    AUT Millennium is one of the biggest providers of water safety education in Auckland. Our Schools Water Safety, Waterwise and Learn to Swim Programmes are predominantly populated by local North Shore schools, and the School EOTC Activity Days, which includes the Water Safety programme, is extended to schools across wider Auckland.
    They are the largest provider of Coastguards “Safe Boating Program” in NZ
  • John Walker Find Your Field of Dreams
    Established in 2008 Community Swim has provided over 1,000,000 free swim lessons throughout primary schools in Auckland South. The goal of the Community Swim Programme is to enable all children to develop the basic life skill of swimming and to realize the opportunities that await them when the door to the world of aquatics is opened. Community Swim takes away barriers teachers and schools face in providing basic yet essential swimming and water safety skills. Students are picked up from school in the Community Swim buses and driven to one of our pools in south and east Auckland, where they receive seven swimming lessons.
  • Harbour Sport
    Harbour Sports ActivAsian program has contributed to water safety in the Auckland region in a number of ways in the past year.
    Collaborated with DPA on various water safety programs and presentations focussed the North Shore Chinese community. These presentations included Rock Fishing seminars, mum and kids water safety workshops, learn to surf and he helped us deliver our west coast experience to Chinese youth.
    They have also helped us interpreting to the Chinese community
  • Manukau Cruising Club
    The Manukau Cruising Club promote water safety consistently. The club is not only advocates but influencer’s in making a difference in sailing, boating, fishing and other water activities.
    There key initiatives are:
    – Water Safety Knowledge
    – Understanding Risk
    – Survival Skills
    – Parents Improving their knowledge
    – Ensuring Life Jackets are a key component for safety in our water activities
    – Supporting water safety initiatives

Winner: Manukau Cruising Club



Long Service Water Safety Champion

  • Karla McCaughan
    Karla has been involved in the aquatics industry for 30 years. She lives and breathes swimming and water safety and is passionate about drowning prevention, especially in the Under-5 age group. She has developed several programmes that work towards achieving zero drowning in this age group by the year 2020. She recently entered into a partnership with Plunket Auckland with the goal of providing free basic water safety education to all Auckland preschoolers. To date, they have delivered to over 75,000 children, with a target of 100,000 by the end of 2017. In 2000 she established a boutique Swim School called Little Dippers that has successfully taught over 20,000 Northland children to swim
  • Ian Ferguson
    Ian Ferguson is a household name, thanks to his impressive Olympic gold winning endeavours at Kayaking. What is not so well recognised, was his dream and passion in creating Vector Wero whitewater park. Now retired, he can be proud of this legacy of this world class facility. It would be nice to see him recognised for his significant contribution to creating a space that actively reduces drowning through education.

Winner: Ian Ferguson

Auckland drowning fatalities YTD

Auckland drowning fatalities YTD

There has been 9 preventable* drowning deaths in Auckland in the year to April 12, 2019, reports Water Safety New Zealand. 

There were 13 preventable* drowning deaths in Auckland in the 2018 year; reports Water Safety New Zealand. 

In 2017 22 people died in preventable drowning incidents in Auckland, double that of the 2016 number. 68% of the drownings in Auckland are males and 23% each from the 15-24 age group and the 65+ age group.

Immersion incidents had the highest activity drowning percentage at 55%. Beaches had the highest environmental percentage at 23%. The rate of drowning in the Auckland region at (1.7 per capita) remains one of the lowest in the country.

Watch the swells and wear a lifejacket: Auckland rock fishing safety task force

Watch the swells and wear a lifejacket: Auckland rock fishing safety task force

The sun may be out but don’t be fooled into thinking conditions are safe, Auckland’s rock fishing safety task force warns fishers as they head out to take advantage of the long weekend and break in the weather to go fishing at their favourite west coast spot.   

“We appeal also to the families of the [mainly] men who fish off the rocks to urge their fathers, husbands and sons to act responsibly, especially around wearing a lifejacket, so they get home safely at the end of the day,” says Davin Bray, Chief Executive, Drowning Prevention Auckland.

There remains a significant risk attached to west coast rock fishing, a risk that is heightened when a big surf is running, all it takes is one rogue wave to dislodge a person, says Surf Life Saving Northern Region Operations Manager Adam Wooler.

“Wearing a lifejacket may mean the difference between life and death, and every incident on the rocks doesn’t just put the person in the water at risk – it also poses a risk to others trying to assist them, including our lifeguards,” he says.

The arrival of summer and holidays has seen a surge in numbers fishing off the rocks and the task force has been carrying out campaign activities to raise awareness about the risks involved, including Rock Fishing Safety Advisor ‘Rockman’ Sam Turbott who, along with jet ski driver Willy Goer, cruises the coastline gathering data on fisher activity, surveying fishers and passing on valuable safety advice.

“Thanks to the support of Dunedin company TracPlus who loaned us a GPS tracking device, we are able to geo-reference the rock fishing hotspots and help keep Sam safe by knowing where he is at all times,” says Adam.

Drowning Prevention Auckland, Surf Life Saving Northern Region and Auckland Council are partners in a joint task force aimed at reducing fatalities among the fisher population on Auckland’s unpredictable and wild west coast.

“Our joint campaign has made a significant impact on reducing the number of drownings and influencing behaviour change. However, there is more work to do as some fishers continue to place themselves at risk by choosing not to wear a lifejacket, which could ultimately save their life. The west coast is a dynamic environment that requires respect in order to stay safe,” says Auckland Council’s Parks, Sports & Recreation Manager Mace Ward.


For further information or to arrange interviews, contact:

Drowning Prevention Auckland: Davin Bray, 021 681 503,
SLSNR: Ron Murray, Wright Communications, 027 807 7354
Auckland Council: Emily Thorn, Publicity Specialist, 021 732 353


The West Coast Rock Fishing Safety project has been in place 12 years, during which time drowning fatalities have reduced to less than one per annum. The annual project survey report, authored by Auckland University researcher and Drowning Prevention Auckland Board Member Dr Kevin Moran, offers an insight on to the impact of this collaborative intervention. During the 2016-2017 season, 211 rock-fishers were interviewed on their thoughts and habits around rock-fishing risks and precautions. It showed that 24% of those interviewed didn’t “often” or “always” use a lifejacket on the rocks, with no change from 2016 (24%), but dramatically down on the 40% in 2015. This is of concern. Positively, there was almost a four-fold increase in fishers sometimes wearing a lifejacket, (41%, 2017; 11%, 2016), and fishers reporting they never wore a lifejacket dropped by almost 50% (37%, 2017; 65%, 2016). Read Dr Moran’s 2017 report. 

Safety advice for rock fishers

  • Wear a lifejacket – this offers the best chance of survival should you fall in the water.
  • Wear light, warm clothing and sport shoes – not gumboots.
  • Check the swell, weather and tide forecast before choosing your fishing location.
  • Avoid getting cut off by an incoming tide, plan an escape route.
  • Keep your eyes on the sea, be prepared to climb to safety.
  • Fish with someone who has fishing experience and knows the site well.
  • Follow the advice of safety signs and warnings.
  • Know who and how to get help in an emergency, carry a mobile, call 111.
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
  • If someone falls in the water:
    • Pick up an angel ring or flotation device
    • Throw it to the person in the water 
    • Call 111 for police, report your location and emergency. Send someone to find help, a lifeguard.


Your mobile won’t save your child from drowning

Your mobile won’t save your child from drowning

Joint media release: Drowning Prevention Auckland and Auckland Swimming Association 

It’s not rocket science; preventing your child from drowning is as simple as putting your device away and focusing your attention on them, say Drowning Prevention Auckland and Auckland Swimming Association in a call out to families making plans for the long weekend.

“In the seconds it takes for you to post on Facebook or Instagram, tragedy could strike.”

Seven children aged under five years drowned in New Zealand last year, more than double the previous year, and sadly all too preventable.

“Children are attracted to water and whether it’s pool, beach or bath, the number one solution is active supervision by an adult at all times,” says Davin Bray, Chief Executive, Drowning Prevention Auckland.

“For under-5s that means being within sight and reach, without distraction, and for older ones knowing where they are and what they are doing,” adds Brett Green, Chief Executive Officer, Auckland Swimming Association.

“At social gatherings around water we suggest having a responsible adult actively on duty as the ‘water watcher’ while others are busy with organising food or other activities and no, that’s not the lifeguard’s job.”

Being able to see where older children are, what the water is doing and how to prevent them getting in to difficulty in the first place, will also help avoid a repeat of recent drownings as result of attempted rescues by parents.

Swimming lessons can give parents a false sense of security, even competent swimmers can get in to difficulty, says Brett.

“If faced with this situation, we urge anyone to take the time to assess the risks and their own level of water competency, and only enter the water if they have some form of flotation with them.”

To date, Auckland has had a drowning free 2018, and that’s the way Drowning Prevention Auckland and Auckland Swimming Association would like it to stay.

For further information and interviews:

Davin Bray
Chief Executive
Drowning Prevention Auckland
M: 021 681 503

Brett Green
Chief Executive Officer
Auckland Swimming Association
M: 021 553 233

Dying to help: would-be rescuers urged to consider safety first

Take time to assess the risks and your own level of water competency, and only enter the water if you have some form of flotation with you, urges Drowning Prevention Auckland, concerned at further loss of life as a result of rescue attempts.

Only two days in to 2018 and already a family has lost a loved one as a result of an attempted rescue, a loss that comes with a massive social cost to whanau and community, says Drowning Prevention Auckland Chief Executive Davin Bray.

From 1980 to 2016, 93 people drowned in New Zealand while attempting to rescue others, 51 of those at beaches. In most cases the original victim(s) survived and the would-be rescuer, often a family member, drowned.

“Most of these people would still be alive if they entered the water with some form of flotation, you don’t see lifeguards attempting a rescue without equipment,” says Bray.

Providing flotation to a person interrupts the drowning process buying valuable time to either plan how to get the person back to shore, or wait until rescue services arrive, he says.

If purpose designed rescue equipment such as a life-ring is not available, people could use improvised flotation aids such as a boogie board, surfboard, rugby ball, chilly-bin lid, or even an empty 2-3L juice or milk container.

Personal safety first is a critical element of a model of bystander rescue called the ‘4Rs of Aquatic Rescue’ – Recognise, Respond, Rescue and Revive.

Recognising that Kiwis will continue to instinctively attempt to rescue others despite international advice that generally recommends not entering the water, Drowning Prevention Auckland would like to see the 4Rs incorporated into first aid and other public safety education, training for rescue services personnel, and media coverage.

“We have good education around what to do in an earthquake, but when it comes to dealing with someone drowning, for water loving nation we are sadly lacking,” says Bray.

For further information and interviews:

Davin Bray

Chief Executive
Drowning Prevention Auckland

All we want for Christmas

All we want for Christmas

Is for Aucklanders to prioritise safety of self and others around water so no family has to face losing a loved one to drowning this Christmas.   

Swimming, fishing, picnics, camping, boating, or splashing in the backyard pool – they’re all typical Kiwi summer holiday activities which invariably involve water of some kind, it’s in our DNA, says Drowning Prevention Auckland Chief Executive Davin Bray.

“The water is our playground but one which has the potential to be deadly, he says, especially for our young children.”

Five children under the age of six have drowned in Auckland in the past 12 months, all preventable said Mr Bray, and we don’t want that number to increase.

As families prepare their holiday activities we urge them to think about the little things that can help keep themselves, their whanau and friends, safer in, on and around water.

“Most of all, think active supervision of young children at all times around water,” he adds.

“Being on your phone or reading a book is not active supervision, he says. You need to be within sight and reach, ready to respond at any time.”

Other important tips for a safe summer around water:

  • If there is a portable pool lurking under the Christmas tree, it may require fencing and ideally should be emptied when not in use. Also empty all paddling pools after use.
  • During social gatherings and holiday activities it is easy to lose track of who is looking after the children. Have strategies in place to ensure they are being actively supervised and how to cope in an emergency if you are on your own.
  • If you are heading away for the holidays, do a little homework before you go to familiarise yourself with the environment and potential risks.
  • Heading to the beach? Choose one patrolled by lifeguards and swim between the flags.
  • Know your limits: don’t under-estimate the risks or your own ability to cope with those risks.
  • Know the 4Rs – safe ways of rescuing others without putting your own life at risk.

For further information and interviews:

Davin Bray
Chief Executive, Drowning Prevention Auckland
P: 021 681 503

“The world we choose has to reflect the actions we take.” Tima Kurdi

Vancouver Declaration on Drowning Risk Reduction of Migrants and Refugees

At the recent World Conference on Drowning Prevention 2017, in Vancouver, a working group of delegate collaborated to provide a statement on behalf of all the delegates present, with the aim of influencing the risk reduction effort of global migration and refugee drowning. This declaration was inspired by the personal account of refugee drowning given in Vancouver, by Ms. Tima Kurdi, the aunt of the “boy on the beach” Alan Kurdi – a three-year-old who drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in September 2015. The photo of his lifeless body on the beach generated global headlines and prompted international response.

Drowning Prevention Auckland supports this Declaration, and the recommendations for Global Action contained within it.

  1. All nations and communities honor and implement the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
  2. All communities, governments and global agencies work to achieve peace, equality, acceptance, education, safety and health for all;
  3. Legal and safe transit routes should be established to facilitate passage of migrants and refugees seeking safety;
  4. All vessels used for water transportation must be legal, safe, have adequate safety equipment, suitable lighting, skilled crew, and are appropriately loaded;
  5. All nations and vessels fulfill their duties under the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue;
  6. Refugees and migrants may have a disproportionate drowning mortality risk after settlement in countries of relative safety. Drowning risk reduction needs community partnership effort, to integrate, empower, provide knowledge, skills and attitudes to ensure ongoing water safety. Inclusion of all communities in drowning risk reduction education, activities and programs is proposed; and
  7. A Global Partnership for Drowning Prevention should be established, as recommended in the WHO Global Report on Drowning, as the preferred method to coordinate a strategic approach to migrant and refugee drowning risk reduction.

Download the full statement here WCDP 2017 – Migrant and Refugee Statement