Water safety forum targets Pacific drownings

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 05:00 22/06/2012

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How to prevent Pacific Islanders from drowning will be the focus of a water safety forum in Auckland today.

In the past five years 46 Pacific Islanders have drowned - 32 in Auckland.

The Regional Water Safety Education and Drowning Prevention Forum comes following the deaths of a father and son in a boating tragedy near Mangere Bridge last month.

Police divers found the body of 45-year-old father So'saia Paasi two days after he went missing on May 20.

His seven-year-old son Tio's lifeless body was plucked from the harbour the day before.

In January, 15-year-old Zebedee Pua was swept out to sea and drowned at O'Neills Bay after trying to save a young girl.

And in October last year three Auckland men drowned after being swept out to sea at Port Waikato during a Labour Day fishing trip.

''Drownings are preventable - individuals must place some value on their own personal safety and that of their loved ones and until they do we will not see much change. The social cost of drowning is too high,'' WaterSafe Auckland regional promotions manager Barbara Venville said.

More than 100 people are expected to attend the forum including representatives from the Auckland Council, Pacific leaders and representatives from schools, swim schools and aquatic organisations.

It has been six months since the last regional forum where the Pacific community called for action and the Pacific Net Fishing Safety Project was created.

Venville said the forum provided the opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with communities and stakeholders.

"We will be showcasing a number of current initiatives, particularly in the area of Pacific water safety, and new opportunities that have arisen since the last forum," she said

Venville said the forum would help identify any gaps, avoid duplication and help ensure collective strategies and actions align with the Auckland Plan and Local Board identified priorities.

According to WaterSafe Auckland's website, two-thirds of all Maori and Pacific people.

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- Auckland Now

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