15 Jan 2018

Drownings 'cut deep' for surf life savers

3:41 pm on 15 January 2018

Surf life savers in Hawke's Bay are grappling with two drownings in a week amid warnings for swimmers to be more cautious in the water.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand, and software company Emsisoft, will use GPS data and drones to map rip currents and their behaviours.

File photo Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

A man died last night after being pulled from the sea at Waimaramara Beach and days earlier a 35-year-old woman died near the Tukituki river mouth at Haumoana while trying to rescue two children.

Last night three people waded out into the water for an evening swim at Waimarama when they got into trouble. Locals alerted rescuers after noticing the trio being pulled out by the tide. Two survived the swim but one man died shortly after receiving CPR.

Last Tuesday a woman went into the Haumoana river to help two children in trouble.

The children had been swimming in the lagoon when one began to have difficulty swimming.

The woman had gone to the aid of the child. The two children made it to shore but the woman went missing and is presumed dead. A body has turned up in the search but police have not confirmed if it was the woman.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand general manager Al Mundy said some of the rescuers involved in last night's rescue were also involved in Tuesday's rescue and were devastated.

"They're mums and dads and sons and daughters, these lifeguards. It's something that we hope never to have to do, and when we do it certainly does cut deep. So we've got services working with them at the moment to help them through this."

On Auckland's west coast beaches 24 people were rescued and dozens more needed help.

On Saturday Muriwai beach saw 14 rescues and 15 assists, spurring life savers to extend their beach hours.

Surf Life Saving's northern area manager Duncan Buchanan said that due to the conditions and number of people in the water, life savers extended their watch for just over two hours.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills said people should not overestimate their ability.

People needed to understand local conditions and how they could change, he said.

There have been six drownings already this year, compared to five at the same time last year.

In 2017 there were 88 drownings, compared to 78 in 2016.

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