Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Replica statue placed on Auckland beach to combat alarming Pacific drowning statistics

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Anauli Karima Fai'ai | Reporter/Director

ACC and Drowning Prevention NZ are hoping that a replica of the Paris-based Thinker Statue on Auckland’s Karioitahi Beach, will help keep Pacific people safe in the water.

The statue was unveiled as part of an ACC campaign that was launched in 2021, called ‘have a hmmm’ which challenges New Zealanders to avoid injuries when out and about.

The first Thinker Statue was placed on the Mt Hutt Ski Fields in Canterbury last year, encouraging skiers to stay safe while out on the slopes.

Its installation on Kariotahi Beach comes after latest statistics found that there were nearly 200 drownings across New Zealand over the last two years.

Pacific people account for 7% of all water fatalities in New Zealand between 2018 and 2022 with half of those deaths occurring in Auckland alone.

ACC Injury Prevention Officer, Tux Cocker says drowning is a devastating event for families and communities and hopes the statue will make Pacific people to be more cautious.

“We want to take people by surprise and encourage them to think about ways to keep them and their families safe in and around water,” he says.

“One of the best ways people can avoid injuries is to slow down, think about the risk before they get stuck into things. That’s why we’re encouraging people to ‘have a ‘hmmm’” he says.

Drowning Prevention Auckland team leader, Harry Aonga, says having the statue at Kariotahi is significant because there have been several drownings at the beach over the last few years.

“It can be considered quite a popular spot for our Pacific people because there’s access to different waterways and a lot of them do net fishing,” he says.

Aonga adds that Pacific people tend to ignore precautionary measures, which is why they are often caught up in water related incidents.

“What we know is that not alot of people are wearing lifejackets on boats so that’s where organisations like ourselves – we try to work with other organisations to try to ensure that they are doing the right thing when going out.”

“At the end of the day, we want them to come home; come home to their families.”

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