The 2019 Drowning Report relies on information from 285 preventable drowning incidents gathered from coronial findings, police and DHB incident reports and news stories from across the country.
We categorised each case according to the nature of the incident; preventable fatality, or hospitalization, age, gender and ethnicity of the victim and nature and cause of the incident, including activity and environment and a host of other factors.
Behind the scenes we analyse the data to look for significant groupings of incidents with similar characteristics that might reveal some underlying cause to the incident.
In 2019 there were 82 recreational (intending to be in the water) and non-recreational (no intention of being in the water) preventable drowning fatalities. This annual drowning report provides statistics and insights based on the 82 incidents in 2019.
2019 saw an increase of 16, or 24 percent, compared to the 66 preventable drowning fatalities in 2018. The 2019 total is more than the 2014 – 2018 Five Year Average of 79 and less than the 2017 total of 91
In 2019, Preventable Drowning Fatalities at Beaches saw a 50% increase on the 2013-2017 average of 18, with 27 Fatalities.
With 7 Preventable Drowning Fatalities in the Under 5's Age Group, 2019 had a higher toll than the 2013-2017 average of 5.
The highest risk Regions were the West Coast, Northland and Southland; with 15.4, 8.7, and 6.0 Preventable Drowning Fatalities per 100,000 population respectively.
In 2019 Land Based Fishing saw a 140% increase in Preventable Drowning Fatalities compared to the 2013-2017 average.
Asian Preventable Drowning Fatalities saw the largest increase across Ethnicity groups, up 40% on the 2013-2017 average.
There were 41 Hospitalisations involving Streams in 2019; a large increase compared to the 2013-2017 average of 21.
Although Auckland saw the highest total Drowning Fatalities with 18, the West Coast saw the highest per capita rate with 15.4 Drowning Fatalities per 100k population in the region.
Northland saw a significant increase in Preventable Drowning Fatalities going from 8 in 2018 to 16 in 2019.
Bay of Plenty dropped over 50%, going from 10 Fatalities in 2018, to 4 in 2019.
Tasman had 7 Hospitalisations in 2019, up from both the 2013-2017 average and the 2018 figure (2).
Hawke's Bay saw an increase in Drowning Hospitalisations in 2019 with 14. This was above 2018's figure (9) and the 2013-2017 average (6).
2019 Regions Per Capita
Fatalities Per Capita
An increase in 3 Preventable Drowning Fatalities in 2019 saw the West Coast maintain the highest drowning rate in the country. The West Coast increased from 6.1 Preventable Drowning Fatalities per 100k of it's population, to 15.3 in 2019.
Hospitalisations Per Capita
Northland have the highest per-capita rate in the country at 9.5 Hospitalisations per 100k of it's population. Second is Tasman at 6.7 and third is Bay of Plenty at 6.5.
In 2019 Land based fishing had 12 Preventable Drowning Fatalities, a significant increase on 2018 (6) and the 2013-2017 average (5).
Underwater activities increased from 5 Preventable Drowning Fatalities in 2018 to 11 in 2019, well above the 2013-2017 average (6).
After 2018’s low of 2, Powered Boating PDFs regressed back to the 2013-17 average (11) with 12 in 2019.
There were 52 Accidental Immersion Hospitalisations in 2019, a significant increase on the 2013-2017 average (39).
Powered Boating and Fishing Hospitalisations also saw a significant jump in comparison to their 2013-2017 averages.
Swimming Hospitalisations saw a drop with 41, much lower than the 2013-2017 average and the 2018 figure (56).
In 2019 Beaches had 27 Preventable Drowning Fatalities, an increase on 2018 (20) and the 2013-2017 average (18).
Offshore Fatalities stayed the same, with 7 Preventable Drowning Fatalities in 2018 and 2019. This is an improvement on the 2013-17 average which has double the Preventable Drowning Fatalities (14).
Home Pools had 3 Preventable Drowning Fatalities in 2019, matching the 2013-2017 average. This category did see a decrease compared to the 2018 figure (9).
Stream Hospitalisations increased significantly with 41 in 2019, up from 21 in both the 2013-2017 average and the 2018 figure.
Fatalities by Age Group
Hospitalisations by Age Group
Fatalities vs Hospitalisations by Age Group
In 2019, Under 5's had 7 Preventable Drowning Fatalities, an increase on 2018 (3), This figure was also an increase on the 2013-2017 average (5).
With 11 Preventable Drowning Fatalities in 2019, the 15-24 age group again remains below the 2013-2017 average (16).
The 65+ Age Group had 43 Hospitalisations in 2019, a significant increase on the 2013-2017 average (19).
The 55-64 Age Group had 22 Hospitalisations, an increase on the 2013-2017 average (16).
In 2019 there were 14 Asian Preventable Drowning Fatalities, above both the 2018 figure, and the 2013-2017 average (10).
In 2019, Both Maori and NZ European groups saw an increase in Preventable Drowning Fatalities on 2018, but both remain below the 2013-2017 average.
In 2019, NZ European was the only Ethnicity to have a significant increase in Hospitalisations with 115, up on the 2013-2017 average of 85.
Male Preventable Drowning Fatalities increased from 48 in 2018 to 67 in 2019, sitting close to the 2013-2017 average (66).
There were 15 Female Preventable Drowning Fatalities in 2019, the same as the 2013-2017 average, and an improvement on the 2018 figure (18).
There were 78 Female Hospitalisations in 2019, an increase on the 2013-2017 average (55).
Preventable and Non Preventable
Drowning is defined as “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid; outcomes are classified as death (fatal) or morbidity (non-fatal)"*.
The Drowning Report uses statistics on Preventable Drownings only. Preventable Drownings are defined as all drowning deaths other than those that result from suicides, homicides and vehicle accidents. *
In this report non-fatal drownings that result in a stay in hospital of 24 hours or longer are classified as ‘Hospitalisations’. Preventable Drownings are classified as "Fatalities".