Drownings down by 15%

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Eighty-three people lost their lives due to drowning in 2018, a decrease from 2017 when there 99 fatalities in the water. One Northland water safety advocate says families are better equipped to handle themselves while swimming.

It's all fun and games here at Ruakākā Beach in Northland. But families know safety comes first.

"We did a flag shift so we moved our flags a kilometre down the beach and we told everyone, hey we're gonna doing and you watched 50 families pack up their stuff and move," says Surf Live Saver Patrol Captian, Pia Harper. 

Water Safety NZ latest numbers show drownings have dropped from 99 in 2017 to 83 in 2018.  Harper believes the safety message is making an impact.

In the past 10 years, 854 Māori have been rescued in rips at New Zealand beaches.

This Summer, Surf Life Saving NZ teamed up with TSB Bank launching a safety education campaign to ensure swimmers know what to do in tidal rips.

The surf lifesavers are hoping 2019's rates will be better still.