Northlands Kai Iwi Lakes drowning victim is an 11-year-old
An 11-year-old has become Northland’s first drowning victim this year and water safety experts are reiterating calls for holidaymakers to be vigilant in the water as temperatures continue to soar.
The child drowned at the popular Kai Iwi Lakes shortly after 2.10pm today despite the best efforts of emergency services and members of the public that performed CPR.
The death will be referred to the Coroner.
A rescue helicopter was dispatched and so were firefighters from Dargaville, St John paramedics and police and a child was located unresponsive.
It was the third drowning in New Zealand today.
A man died while swimming in the Waingaro River, west of Ngāruawāhia, and another person passed away in what is understood to be a scuba diving accident at Waiwera Beach.
Dargaville deputy fire chief Jason Campbell said two appliances from the town attended the callout but his firefighters did very little as police and St John paramedics attended to the child.
A helicopter was also at the scene.
He said it was a stunning day and a lot of holidaymakers were enjoying the lakes.
Kaipara District Council, which runs the lakes, briefed the local iwi late yesterday.
The holiday spot remained open after the tragedy.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Daniel Gerrard described the spate of drownings around the country this festive season as a “national disaster” and called on everyone to be vigilant while in the water.
“There’s no single message we can convey. It’s an absolute tragedy for everyone and my heart goes out to those affected. We do need to work out some messages around water safety.
“We live in an island nation with beautiful oceans, rivers, and lakes that we should be out there enjoying. It’s only going to get hotter and people should watch out for everyone and little ones need to be at arm’s length.
“You cannot overestimate your ability and underestimate the currents and everyone needs to stop and think about that,” Gerrard said.
He didn’t think the school curriculum in Northland was strong enough to ensure adequate work was done around water safety, particularly in term 4 when schools did water safety skills education and training.
He said the months-long lockdowns for Auckland, Northland and Waikato may have encouraged people to try things they hadn’t done before, overestimate their fitness, or delay the servicing of equipment.
Kaipara mayor Jason Smith expressed his condolences to the child’s family and reminded everyone of the care needed while in the water.
“These places can look beautiful but they can be very deceptive and there’s a fine line between being okay and being in trouble. Sadly, people don’t know where that fine line is until tragedy happens,” he said.
Northland’s drowning toll last year was eight.
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