The lives of those lost along New Zealand’s coastline
will be remembered at a special dawn service on World
Drowning Prevention Day.
Organised by Drowning
Prevention Auckland and supported by Te Ahiwaru Trust, the
service, on 25 July, will acknowledge New Zealand’s close
connection with water, remembering those who have died and
bringing hope to a safer future.
Last year in New
Zealand, 94 lives were tragically lost during water-related
activities – the largest annual loss of life in waterways
in the past decade.
Of these fatalities, 85 per cent
were males, with Māori overrepresented, and 35 of these
incidents occurred in Auckland and Northland.
Keen-Biggelaar, Drowning Prevention Auckland (DPA) Chief
Executive, said, “Drowning can affect anyone, at any time.
It is tragic and heart breaking, but it is also preventable.
We strive to educate local communities on drowning
prevention, so they can return home safe and
One of DPA’s key drowning prevention
initiatives is ‘float first’. International research has
demonstrated that floating in the first two minutes of cold
water immersion has proven to save
Keen-Biggelaar said, “Unintentional immersion
in cold water can result in life-threatening cold shock
response. Floating for one to two minutes allows the body
time to recover from the shock and regain control of
breathing and movements. If we can teach everyone to
‘float first’, we can truly give them a better chance of
Last year, 19 people lost
their lives while swimming in various locations such as
pools, lakes, rivers, or the ocean. Notably, 37 percent of
these incidents occurred specifically at beaches. However,
it’s crucial to note that there have been zero recorded
drownings among beachgoers who stayed within the designated
flags at lifeguarded beaches.
Kent, Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s National Lifesaving
Manager, said, “During the 2022/2023 season, our surf
lifeguards patrolled 92 beaches, logging over 221,000 hours
on duty, and successfully saving more than 1,240
Kent emphasised the
volunteers’ unwavering commitment to protecting beachgoers
and ensuring their safety in the water. “Every person who
dies on our coastline is someone with a whanau and a
community who loves them and misses them. That’s why
it’s important to swim between the flags, and during the
months when our surf lifeguards are off duty, it’s crucial
for all beachgoers to take precautions and be mindful of our
safety messages such as ‘if in doubt, stay
The World Drowning Prevention Day
dawn service will be held on the shores of Te Manukanuka o
Hoturoa, Manuka Harbour, near Makaurau Marae. This location
holds significant historical value, as it has been the start
and endpoint of many great journeys on the water, following
in the wake of Te Ahiwaru’s ancestor, Hape.
When: Tuesday, 25 July
Oruarangi Esplanade Reserve, Mangere,
Arrival: 6:45am – 7am
7am – 7:40am
- Ngati-Tahinga Wilson
– Co-Chair. Te Ahiwaru Trust
- Rihari Wilson – Te
- Nicola Keen-Biggelaar – Chief
Executive, Drowning Prevention