October 18, 2021
Weekend drownings stark warning of west coast threat
Manukau Outrigger Canoeing Club is mourning coach Kafoa Hala Latu, who was one of five men who died last week on the harbour.
The harbour also claimed the lives of a diver and three men out on the water over the weekend.
Club founder James Papali’i says it’s a reminder of the unpredictability of Auckland’s west coast.
“Undertows, the west coast is always the strongest. Piha, the surf deaths and all that, the harbours, the strengths of the current and that, and that would have contributed to the other deaths,” he says.
Investigations have been launched into the incidents.
Meanwhile, a report out today from Maritime New Zealand found Māori and Pacific people were over represented in recreational boating accidents.
A report into the 98 lives lost in the 92 accidents between January 2015 and December 2020 found Māori made up 16 percent of fatalities even though being only 12 percent of those participating in the sector, and 10 percent of fatalities were Pasifika despite just 3 percent participation.
Maritime NZ deputy director Sharyn Forsyth, who chairs the Safer Boating Forum, says the majority of deaths were from drowning after either falling overboard or the vessel capsizing or being swamped.
Most recreational boating accidents happened suddenly, and people were in the water before they had time to use emergency equipment that was not already being worn.
She says 35 people died after falling overboard from a vessel that remained upright and floating. These deaths are likely preventable if the deceased was wearing a lifejacket.
The highest number of accidents occurred on small power boats, small powered and unpowered dinghies or inflatable boats.