Support for new safer water by-laws in the Waiariki

updated By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

New water safety by-laws have come into effect in the Waiariki region. Kiwi Rafting business Kaitiaki Adventures support the new by-laws which include changes to life jacket rules and the mandatory registration of jet skis and similar craft.  

For guide, Kayla Pene safety is paramount to ensure thrill seekers enjoy Rotorua's waterways.

"It's imperative for our business that they always wear a life jacket, that fits them appropriately, to prevent them from drowning," said Pene.

On the 1st of July, new Bay of Plenty Council safety by-laws came into effect which includes, people wearing properly fitted life jackets at all times on board vessels six metres or less unless advised by the skipper. All Jet Ski and Personal Water Craft users using Bay of Plenty waterways will need to register online through Auckland Council.

"A sad aspect is that according to statistics last year eight people drowned in the Waiariki region. Last summer three people drowned in our lakes of Rotorua," said Māori Bay of Plenty Toi Moana councilor, Araptea Tahana.

In 2011, 17-year-old Rotorua youth, Bishop Thompson drowned after being thrown from a jet ski on Lake Okareka. He wasn't wearing a life jacket or a helmet. 

"That's a prime example. Although it's tragic for that to happen, perhaps it will raise awareness within everyone to take care on the water," said Tahana.

"It's a great initiative for everyone to wear life jackets because families and international visitors may not come here," said Pene.

Maritime staff can issue a notice if a rule has been breached. A fine may be issued at the discretion of the Harbourmaster.