Waterfront dive platform's safety questioned

ELLE HUNT
Last updated 23:03 04/02/2013
The diving platform on Wellington's waterfront has raised concerns about safety and water quality
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ
FLYING LEAP: The diving platform on Wellington's waterfront has raised concerns about safety and water quality.

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It has made a big splash this summer, but the diving platform on Wellington's waterfront has raised concerns about safety and water quality.

Wellington Waterfront and Wellington City Council made the joint decision to close the popular platform on Friday and Saturday for fears that intoxicated sevens revellers could injure themselves.

Security guards were present to enforce the ban, which was lifted on Sunday.

Wellington Waterfront chief executive Ian Pike said it was prudent to close the platform during the sevens, given the levels of intoxication and the risks posed by cumbersome costumes.

Mr Pike said poor water quality in the harbour had also contributed to the decision - prompting debate among stakeholders as to whether the public should be notified, or the platform closed, if water quality declined again in future.

There were "ongoing discussions" between Wellington Waterfront, the city and regional councils, and the water infrastructure company Capacity as to what processes might need to be introduced.

"I can't say much more than that until we've had a look at some tests that are done on a very regular basis around the harbour."

But Mr Pike was confident that the platform - which he said was an "enormous success" - was here to stay.

City council spokesman Richard MacLean said it was installed to discourage people from jumping off the Wellington Free Ambulance building and the City to Sea Bridge.

"It was to provide something fun, but also to prevent possible deaths from people falling off the structures that they'd previously been jumping off."

Mr Pike said there had been comprehensive consultation to ensure the design - which stands at 8.5m above the water level at low tide - was safe.

"We're not in the business of putting in things that are going to result in catastrophe.

"There are risks with everything in life, and you can't monitor and control all of that, but we're doing what we can."

Mr MacLean said a letter to the editor published in last Friday's Dominion Post was the sole complaint he was aware of.

"Everyone who's been there loves it, basically."

The platform was not closed at night, and lifeguards were not present, but Mr MacLean said it was seen as an extension of the waterfront and the onus was on individuals to take care.

"To put it into perspective, people are diving into the harbour all along the waterfront . . .

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"There's a limit to what we can do to stop people jumping in the harbour."

There was every possibility that the platform would be closed again for short periods, as it was during the sevens, "if it becomes a problem".

"But so far it hasn't been . . . It's less hair-raising than what young people were doing over past summers."

- The Dominion Post

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