Be prepared before boating this Labour Weekend

By: Media Release

With Labour Day weekend starting tomorrow, Maritime New Zealand is urging all boaties to prep your boat, check your gear, and know the rules before going out on the water.

It is too late to find out there is something wrong with your boat or gear, you do not know an important safety rule, or the weather will be bad, when you are on the water. That is dangerous for all involved.

Today is the last day of Safer Boating Week, which is the week before recreational boating traditionally starts at the long weekend.

Maritime NZ deputy director and chair of the Safer Boating Forum, Lindsay Sturt, said it has been a successful week.

"TV, radio, print and online news media have given us great support reporting on the Forum’s activities and spreading safer boating messages," Mr Sturt said.

"Without media engagement, it is much harder to get the ‘Prep, Check, Know’ message to boaties. We started the week last Friday with a wharf jump in Wellington. Twenty-seven safer boating leaders jumped into the harbour to remember the 27 people who died in recreational boating accidents last year.

"There was a dramatic helicopter rescue exercise in Auckland harbour, safer recreational boating grants were announced, waterproof cellphone bags proved a big hit with boaties, iconic statues wore lifejackets, staff from harbourmasters’ officers, Police and Maritime NZ visited boat ramps, there was a big spike in social media activity, and lots more.

"We even had a very public example of exactly what not to do. Two men were reported drunk, and stuck on Taputeranga Island in Wellington. They got there in a cheap inflatable children’s toy, they didn’t wear life jackets, didn’t even have oars or a motor for their ‘boat’, and had no waterproof communications.

"Valuable police, surf lifesaving and helicopter staff, time and resources were all taken up rescuing them. They were lucky they had friends on shore who called emergency services. Without that, the combination of alcohol, inadequate clothing, cold, wet, and out overnight could have been tragic."

Safer Boating Week’s three key messages are all about what to do before going on the water:

Prep your boat – service the engine, check and change the fuel, check the battery and just generally give the boat a good onceover.

Check your gear – make sure your lifejackets are still fit for purpose and you have enough. Service any inflatable lifejackets and ensure you have two reliable forms of communication equipment.

Know the rules – ensure you know the "rules of the road" on the water, and check your local bylaws to make sure you understand what the requirements are in your area.


  • Each year over 1 million New Zealanders take to the water in 960,000 recreational craft.
  • 2014, 27 deaths in recreational boating accidents.
  • To 22 October 2015, 16 deaths in recreational boating accidents.
  • Estimated two-thirds of the people are likely to have survived if they had worn lifejackets.
  • More than 90 per cent of people who die while recreational boating are men aged between 30 and 60.
  • 78 per cent of boaties said they always wear a lifejacket on the water.
  • 60 per cent said they always wear life jackets and ensure others on their boat do too.

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