Cliff-jumping ban likely after man's death

Last updated 09:00 22/02/2014

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Signs warning swimmers not to jump from the cliffs are being considered following the death of a Palmerston North man near Pohangina.

Thomas Tui Hall, 33, was swimming with a group of friends at the Pohangina River near the Raumai Reserve bridge when members of the group climbed a rope on a cliff face about 5.45pm on Wednesday.

As Mr Hall was jumping, he hit his head on a rock, falling 15 metres into the water below, police said.

Bystanders at the crowded river-side spot rushed to help him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Hall leaves behind a daughter and a number of step-children.

Manawatu District Council's community services group manager Brent Limmer said he went to the site the day after Mr Hall's death to look at the ropes being used to jump from the cliff.

They had not been put up by council and it had not been aware of them, Mr Limmer said.

Palmerston North's Civil Defence Rescue and Emergency Support team was sent to the site on Thursday evening to remove two ropes from the cliff.

Signs at the site were about keeping safe while swimming and the threat of rock fall, but did not specifically ban people from jumping from the cliff.

That was likely to change as a result of Mr Hall's death, Mr Limmer said.

Temporary signage warning of rock falls and erected following the Wellington Anniversary quake last month had been vandalised.

New temporary signage had been arranged to be put up "sooner rather than later", and permanent signage had already been scheduled to be put up.

The geology of the rock face was such that rock falls could not be prevented, and the the council relied on people exercising caution.

"We're discouraging people from swimming and playing too close to the cliff face there, as with Totara Reserve," Mr Limmer said.

"By and large the area is safe, but people do need to exercise caution in regards to the cliff."

Mr Hall's funeral will be held next week.

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- Manawatu Standard

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