Council removed rope in fatal swimming spot

02:35, Feb 24 2014
taupo drowning
A popular Taupo swimming spot has claimed the life of a 17-year-old teenager on Thursday. Another teenager died in the same place in similar circumstances almost a year ago.

Authorities had taken down a rope swing at the Taupo spot where a teen drowned on Thursday but swimmers just kept putting it back up.

Cole Justice Williams of Feilding, 17, drowned while swimming with friends in the Waikato River. Police were called about 4.15pm and his body was found half an hour later.

The incident happened a year after Taupo-nui-a-Tia College student David Clark, 15, also drowned in the same area, which is popular with swimmers.

Taupo District Council manager of parks and public spaces John Ridd said council had tried to cut the rope swing down in the past but it kept going back up.

 ''There is a deer fence [in place but] the kids just cut it open. 

''We had a death three years ago down at Spa Park and there was a coroner's inquiry  and one recommendation that came out of that was signage, so we identified all the main points and put signage up.'' 


He said there were about four signs a metre high at the main access points to the river and several others spread along the river. 

But no river was safe, even with the signage, he said.

''That's why we want people to swim in the lake, you do not have the problems you do with the river.''

Taupo harbour master Philip King said despite warning signage people often were not  aware of the river's changing conditions.

''Kids need to be confident swimmers and respect the conditions. If they get caught in the current, which is similar to a rip at the beach, they shouldn't try and fight it or panic,'' he said.

A Maori ceremony was performed at the area but a rahui (temporary prohibition) has not been put in place.