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19-year-old drowns at Haruru

Tuesday 8 Jan 2013 9:14 p.m.

A man has drowned at Haruru Falls near Waitangi - the second drowning death in two days.

The 19-year-old was swimming with family at Lily Pond, Haruru, at around 3:30pm, and police say he disappeared under the waterline for some time before being located by family and ambulance staff.

Attempts by ambulance staff to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

The tragedy in the Waitangi River follows the death of a fisherman near Opotiki yesterday.

Police have named him as Benjamin Tekira - tonight his devastated family welcomed his body back to their marae.

Water Safety New Zealand says there were three drownings during the Christmas and New Year holiday period in comparison to nine last year. While that's good news, it's the near misses that are frustrating rescuers.

“We're pushing the same messages forever, everyone knows you swim between the flags,” says lifeguard Chris O’Neil.

Taylors Mistake near Christchurch closed over the weekend after 28 people had to be rescued while swimming outside of the flags.

“The surf was a lot bigger in this rip in here was running a lot stronger. We also had around 2000 people on the beach and 400 hundred in the water, so a small space for a lot of people,” says lifeguard Emily Jones.

And yesterday evening a 50-year-old German tourist and a boy believed to be his son had to be rescued when they ran into trouble in choppy seas.

Their rescuers say they shouldn't have been swimming in those conditions, and lifeguards say people need to know when and where to go.

“Sometimes people get into a bit of trouble, and that's our job. But sometimes I look at and think it's self inflicted and it's just stupidity that's caused it,” says Mr O’Neil.

Last year's drowning toll was 93, down from 132 in 2011 and authorities say we all have a part to play in turning the drop into a trend.

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