New figures from ACC show there have been 12,379 water-related injuries over the last three months.
By Jacob Johnson
It’s a slight improvement on last summer, with almost 13,000 injuries, but ACC says there’s plenty of room for improvement.
“So many of the injuries are absolutely preventable, particularly the drowning injuries, which are the ones we are really, really concerned about,” says ACC injury prevention leader Kirsten Malpas.
Drowning is the number one cause of recreational deaths in New Zealand, with 74 preventable drowning fatalities last year.
It's at the higher end for developed countries.
“It’s one of those things we don’t want to beat the Aussies on,” Malpas said.
"But we are almost double the Australians, so want to really make quite an impact on that."
It’s why kids at Berhampore Primary School in Wellington, along with more than 750,000 other school kids around the country, are taking the Water Skills For Life programme.
Sheridan Bruce from Water Safety New Zealand says it’s all about teaching kids essential swimming skills.
“Kids go out in the real world, and you know they get a wave, and they tumble in the wave, or they’re in a current in a river and that’s what Water Skills For Life teaches children. It teaches them how to just be in real water.”
Over the past five years, Kiwis in the 10-14 age bracket have had the most water related injuries — more than 16,000 — working out to be an average of nine a day.
Malpas hopes the programme will help more New Zealanders in and around the water.
“The sector is collectively working at getting a 25 per cent reduction in drownings over the next five years, so it’s ambitious, but we absolutely think it is achievable.”