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Water Safety New Zealand and ACC confront high risk group with Swim Reaper

20 December 2016

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ), in collaboration with ACC has today launched its summer awareness campaign aimed specifically at young Kiwi males in an attempt to bring down New Zealand’s high drowning toll.

“33% of the preventable drowning deaths so far this year are young kiwi males between the ages of 15-34,”says WSNZ Chief Executive Jonty Mills.

“We decided to hit them a bit harder in a way they understand and can relate to, hopefully to make them stop and think and look out for each other.”

Working alongside ACC, The Swim Reaper is a concept developed with the knowledge that young men are risk takers who overestimate their ability and often don’t think about the consequences of their bad decisions.

“We want all kiwis to enjoy the water this summer, whatever activity they participate in. We also want them to go home safely to their families at the end of the day. The Swim Reaper is not designed to scare families and children away from the beach” says Mills.

“It will be activated predominantly via digital channels like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram and specifically target young kiwi males at known high risk locations, including rivers.”

ACC Sports Injury Prevention Manager Isaac Carlson says ACC supports the work Water Safety New Zealand is doing to encourage kiwis to make better decisions around water.

“Each year over 100 people drown in New Zealand. It’s a shocking statistic considering most drownings are preventable. We hope a hard hitting campaign like this will encourage people to make safer decisions while they’re at our beaches rivers and lakes.”

Acknowledging a more confrontational approach, WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says The Swim Reaper through its unique personality will deliver positive safety messages, underpinned by potential consequences for bad decisions. “We hope the Swim Reaper will take on a life of its own and really connect with young people.”

“Our overall safety messages remain the same this summer; be prepared, watch out for yourself and others, be aware of the dangers and know your limits.”

The Swim Reaper stands as a timely reminder to everyone that, while it’s great to enjoy our beautiful swimming spots, making bad choices around water can have deadly consequences.

The Swim Reaper will be lurking in known high risk locations and will speak directly to the target audience in their language.

For more information contact Ben Christie, WSNZ Senior Communications and Media Advisor on 021 770 285 or email

Water Safety New Zealand and ACC confront high risk group with Swim Reaper

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