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Soaring numbers of inexperienced boaties are heading out to sea in Auckland concerning water safety advocates.

Research* shows a dramatic increase in the numbers of new boat trailer registrations and a high percentage of boaties on the water with fewer than five years experience.

WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says the figures are a concern and a strategy is being developed to focus on water safety in Auckland.

“It’s our largest population base and with high particpation rates across a wide range of water based activities, an accessible harbour and warm climate it’s important we have a strong focus on Auckland.”

Auckland is a challenging environment currently with on average 17 preventable drowning fatalities per year.

There have been 67 preventable drowning fatalities over the five years 2013 – 2017. Beaches are the deadliest environment with immersion incidents the deadliest activity, followed by swimming and powered boating.

The region averages almost 600 Coastguard callouts, 85 water related NZ Police search and rescue callouts and almost 6000 water related ACC claims annually.

“Auckland has had rapid population growth and water safety services are scrambling to keep up with demand. These are largely volunteer based organisations facing significant challenges” says Mills.

WSNZ is working with Drowning Prevention Auckland (DPA) and other partners in the region to develop an Auckland Regional Water Safety Strategy.

“We want to engage with local communities so this strategy is driven by leaders from the region who understand the issues and challenges unique to the area” says Mills.

This weekend DPA’s Auckland Water Safety Week supported by WSNZ gets underway at Okahu Bay. Water safety organisations will be in action promoting aquatic education and water sports with demonstrations, events, forums and games.

The aquatic education programme for children in years 1 – 8, Water Skills for Life, supported by The Warehouse, will be a feature of the WSNZ exhibit. Parents and children can learn about the water safety skills taught in school and have the chance to win The Warehouse vouchers by entering into the Water Skills for Life colouring competition.


For more detail on Auckland’s Water Safety Week go to

For media enquiries please call Sally Walker on 0211605641 or email


* Boating experience data from: 2018 Recreational Boating Participation Research, June 2018, Richard Griffiths, Jonathan Dodd and Yazad Karkaria, Ipsos, Auckland. 

Boat trailer registrations data from: NZ Marine Industry Association, 2018



Jonty Mills – CEO

Jonty joined Water Safety New Zealand in 2016. Previously he had spent more than 20 years in communications and external affairs leadership, operations and business development roles. He brings expertise in stakeholder management to CEO and ministerial level, with a blend of private and public sector experience.   A long-standing member of BP's Senior Leadership team and media spokesperson Jonty has a background of leadership roles in marketing, operations and business development across commercial and retail business channels.  During his time at BP, he was responsible for managing the company’s community partnerships – including Surf Life Saving New Zealand, Young Enterprise Trust and Royal Society of New Zealand – and has experience in advocacy as the interface between BP and central and local Government. He also helped embed safety as the number one priority and value across the organisation and is a strong advocate for Water Safety New Zealand’s core values and strategic direction.   027 478 1836 

Auckland Boaties Heading into a Perfect Storm

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