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Statistics tell the stories of tragic drownings

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Readers wanting to access information about preventable drownings can go to the latest figures at

The site, which uses data from Water Safety New Zealand's DrownBase™, provides information about year-to-date preventable drownings and compares them to data reported in 2020.

The weekly live statistics page relies on information received from coronial findings, police and news stories gathered across the country.

The mid winter picture is:

  • In 2021 it is good news for the 35- to 44-year-olds with six less preventable drownings this year than at the same time last year.

  • However, it is the over 65+ year age group who are most at-risk, with nine drownings so far. This is followed up by the 45 to 54 and 55- to 64-year-olds with six deaths each.

More worrying however is the increase in preventable drownings of babies aged birth to four years. This year three young children have lost their lives, compared to last year of just one.

To find out more information about how you can prevent drownings in under-fives click here to our website

Latest Statistics 2021


Year to date, the most area responsible for seven preventable drownings in the Waikato region. This is followed by Wellington and the Bay of Plenty with 5 preventable deaths each.


Swimming tops the activity when it comes to preventable drownings with 13 deaths. This is followed by accidental immersions (where a person ends up in the water unexpectedly) with five people losing their lives.


Rivers and beaches are the most at-risk environments that feature in the statistics for preventable deaths in 2021 with nine people passing in these areas. This is followed up with deaths in harbours (five), lakes (three) and river/harbour bar crossings (two) also featuring.


As previously state above, nine 65+ year olds have lost their lives in preventable drowning incidences this year to date. This is an increase from 2020 when only four people drowned.


This year Maori are topping the rankings when it comes to preventable drownings. Twelve people lost their life year to date compared to 10 for the same time in 2020. NZ European follow behind at nine deaths.

General information
  • Males are most at risk with nearly 85 percent deaths being male

  • January was the most at risk month

  • Surf beaches are the most dangerous resulting in four drownings each. Lakes follow at three drownings and harbours two deaths accordingly.


Drowning data is sourced from Water Safety New Zealand’s DrownBase™ and the figures provided are provisional. Preventable fatalities include recreational and non-recreational drowning deaths. They do not include those fatalities classified as ‘other’ (arising as a result of road or air vehicle accidents, homicide, suicide or of unknown origin) as these are not considered applicable to the prevention and rescue efforts of the water safety sector.

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