Worst year for drowning in a decade

By Wena Harawira

Water Safety Aotearoa says last year was the worst in a decade for drowning and for men in particular.

Ninety people drowned in 2021, 85 per cent (76) were men.

Of the 19 people who drowned aged 65 and over, 18 of them were men.

Swimmers who drowned in rivers were likely to be Māori men and underwater deaths also tended to be Māori men aged 35-65.

The number of women who drowned was still relatively low (14) and the death of under-5-year-olds by drowning occurred outside the home in rivers, lakes and a water bore.

Water Safety New Zealand chief Daniel Gerrard says the figures are a national tragedy and more investment is needed in prevention.

Drowning remains the leading cause of recreational death in Aotearoa and the third highest cause of accidental death.