ACC funding life-saving equipment at beaches

A sign highlighting the water hazards at a beach with a rescue device mounted on a post nearby.

We’re helping save lives by funding the production and installation of public rescue equipment at New Zealand’s 74 surf life-saving clubs.

The $100,000 investment is part of an agreement with Surf Life Saving New Zealand aimed at reducing coastal drownings.

The programme was fast-tracked following a Coroner’s report in May last year that recommended all councils in New Zealand, with the support of Surf Life Saving New Zealand, identify areas where rescue equipment and signage will benefit public safety.

Public rescue equipment are flotation devices – either rescue buoys or life rings – that members of the public can use to aid people struggling in the water by keeping them afloat until further help arrives.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand says several drowning incidents could have been prevented if public rescue equipment had been available.

Under the agreement, ACC will provide $60,000 to the charity organisation to fund the production, distribution and installation of the devices, as well as signage that identifies relevant hazards and instructions on how to use the devices.

A rescue buoy mounted on a sign with instructions on how to use it.

A local solution to a big problem

We’ll also provide $40,000 to fund the production of two moulds – one rescue buoy and one life ring – with production to begin by June this year.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand currently has to order these devices from overseas, but Auckland company Rotational Plastics has been enlisted to manufacture New Zealand-made-and-approved devices for our beaches.

It’s expected all surf life-saving clubs across the country will have the rescue equipment installed by June 2025.

ACC figures show more than 17,000 New Zealanders lodge a water-related injury claim on average each year, with swimming and surfing the most common causes of injury.

Provisional Water Safety New Zealand data also shows there were 90 preventable drownings across New Zealand in 2023.

A long-distance shot of a busy beach on a sunny day.

Coroner reports frequently state drownings could have been prevented if personal flotation devices were present at the scene of the drowning.
- James Whitaker, ACC Injury Prevention Leader

Keeping Kiwis safe on our coasts

ACC Injury Prevention Leader James Whitaker says ACC is proud to partner with Surf Life Saving New Zealand to help New Zealanders stay safe on our coasts.

“Coroner reports frequently state drownings could have been prevented if personal flotation devices were present at the scene of the drowning,” he says.

“At the moment, the two main types of devices are produced overseas and getting them to New Zealand is a slow process.

“It’s great that a local company can lead the production of rescue equipment with a standardised design and safety regulations across the country.

“This will make things more cost effective and quicker.”

James says the investment will be supported by online and in-person education, while signage could display QR codes that link to ACC’s water-focused safety videos.

Several people fishing on rocks next to the ocean.

Water Safety Code

  • Be prepared
  • Watch out for yourself and others
  • Be aware of the dangers
  • Know your limits

Boating Safety Code

  • Wear your lifejacket
  • Take two waterproof ways to call for help
  • Check the marine weather forecast
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Be a responsible skipper