Need to report someone lost or missing? call 111 - Ask for police

Untitled design 1

An open letter from Water Safety NZ

An open letter to all the guys who might not make it through the summer, penned by Water Safety NZ CEO Daniel Gerrard.

Make no mistake about it, we’ve got a national disaster on our hands. Summer is coming up, and by all accounts, it will be a scorcher.

If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you or someone you know will drown this summer. Around 30 Kiwis, mostly male, will die over the next two months through drowning.

Some might make it to celebrate the festive season with their family, but most won’t get to see the New Year. There’s no easy way to put this, but it’s on us guys to look out for our mates, whanau and everyone else out there.

No one is planning to become ‘That Guy’ but it’s now or never to make a real effort about being safe in, on, and around water as we enjoy our great beaches, lakes, and rivers. While these spots become summer playgrounds and pantries, let’s make sure they don’t also become our graves.

You can’t afford to half-arse your safety any longer. We’ve all been ‘That Guy’ who made bad decisions around the water and we’ve all been ‘That Guy’ who thought she’ll be right. But I promise you it’s only luck and not skill, that you’re still with us today.

Please don’t be ‘That Guy’, this summer.

In 2021 we lost 90 people to drowning, and 76 were male. And already this year, 70 families have lost a loved one. More often than not they’re a father, a son, an uncle, a brother or a grandfather. Do you want to know the real reason women live longer than men? It’s because time after time we continue to make bad decisions around the water.

To Pakeha males in power boats, Māori men gathering kai underwater, Asian men fishing from rocks, Pasifika men fishing from boats… you guys are consistently over-represented in our drowning tragedies. No one is coming to save you. If you want to get home safely this summer, we need to man up and look after our mates.


It’s common sense, apparently not so common anymore. By knowing the conditions, supervising the kids, wearing a life jacket, and remembering you’re not as good as you were when you were 20. You will make it home at the end of the day.

Our friends at ACC remind us all to “have a Hmmmmm”. And I agree. Let’s have a hmmm -before we swim, let’s have a hmmm before we jump in. It is the simple difference between life and death.

By now some might be wondering why I’ve taken the time to write this open letter. Well, I’m a 49-year-old Pakeha male, a husband, a father, a son, a brother and an uncle. I’m also a boat owner and active fisherman. I’ll surf when I can, but love to dive to put kai moana on the dinner table.

In short, I’m exactly the kind of bullet-proof ‘Kiwi Bloke’ we’ll lose over the coming months due to bad decisions made around water. And, in my other role as the Chief Executive of Water Safety New Zealand, I need your help.

From one guy to another.

He waka eke noa – we’re all in this together.

Ngā mihi
Daniel Gerrard
CEO - Water Safety NZ 


See more insights about New Zealand's drowning problem here.

Back to News
Need to report someone lost or missing? call 111 - Ask for police