WaterSafe Auckland Ceo encourages NZ to adopt Co2 inflatable life jackets

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

Water Safe's CEO says all Kiwis need to take responsibility of their own safety on recreational fishing boats by owning their fitted jacket.  This follows the Kaipara harbour tragedy where seven men drowned.

They're made to save our lives at sea, but the Drowning Prevention Report by Water Safe New Zealand suggests we aren't using them.

Water Safe Ceo Jonathon Webber says, “We're an aquatic water loving nation and we tend to accept that these drowning deaths that occur are an evitable consequence of taking part in water activity.”

Māori made up 21% of drownings last year. Clayton Wikaira from Water Safe says, Māori attitudes on the water need to change too.

“We've been around it all our lives, our history also shows that coming here on the canoes. I suppose with that though is sometimes a lack of caution around water.”

The recent drowning of seven men in the Kaipara because of life jackets has raised major concern.

Hutchwilco Sales and Marketing Manager Tim Ritchie says, “It's extremely important to make sure your wearing the right product for the marine activity you're involved in.”

Hutchwilco in Auckland is the only marine safety equipment manufacturer in the country. Tim says he has sizes that fit all.

“We start at about 1 year of age and it goes right through to a XXL product, so in some of the product styles there’s probably 8 or 9 jackets in the size range,” says Richie.

But what about plus size people, Jonathon says NZ should look at all options.

“The Co2 inflatable life jackets tend to fit a wider range of sizes maybe there’s a need to have more of those deployed, with those they're expensive they cost more to maintain but at the end of the day what sort of a price are we going to put on somebody’s life,’ says Webber.