10km rāhui lapses on Northland beaches

By James Caldwell, Tepara Koti

In the past week, Northland waters have suffered from four drowning deaths in three days.

The 10km rāhui from Uretiti Beach to Waipū that was put in place on Christmas Day has now lapsed.

But local iwi Patuharakeke along with the Ruakākā Surf Lifesaving patrol remain vigilant with an expected influx of more visitors to their region.

Rāhui were put in place recently to respect lives lost and to restore the mauri of those waterways.

Kaumātua Paraire Pirihi from Patuharakeke Te Iwi says, "A lot of our people don't know about the rāhui and are ignorant of the rāhui so it's just a matter of educating them because the end result is, nā, we had a drowning - which is terrible."

The rāhui lasted a week from the Ruakākā Surf Club right down to Waipū's river mouth.

Crab-fishing is one main cause of drowning deaths in the region, hence why local iwi and surf lifesaving patrol want visitors to understand how to read the dangers.

Paraire explains that the thing with the sea is the waves and the currents, many don't know about the dangers. They come to swim, or they come crab-fishing.

Iwi are calling for more resources and assistance to get the message out far and wide.

Ruakākā Surf Lifesaving club chair Tania Ahrens says, "When you're fishing, swim to your ability, don't swim alone. But the life jacket is key - people who drown don't wear life jackets."

The holiday drowning toll season runs each year from 4pm Christmas Eve until 6am January 3.