Call to remember water safety over Christmas break

Horizons Regional Council, along with partner organisations and groups, will be closely monitoring water vessel behaviour on the Manawatū River and its tributaries this holiday season and over the summer period.


Horizons harbourmaster for the Manawatū River, Ross Brannigan, says the council is responsible for ensuring river bylaws are upheld for the safety of all users.
“With the great weather we’ve been having we’re not surprised people are out using jetskis and other motorised vessels,” he says.
“However, we want to make sure that everyone does so in a way that ensures everyone gets out of the water unharmed. This means remembering to stay within speed limits, not getting too close to other users and being old enough to operate the vessel in the first place.”
Mr Brannigan says a particular focus will be on the lower reaches of the Manawatū River from Whirokino to the Manawatū Estuary following a number of recent complaints.
“The majority of complaints we’ve received have been in regard to jetski behaviour, although the bylaws apply to any vessel that is on the water. The lower reaches of the river have become a popular destination for jet skiers, along with various other recreational activities, so we will be keeping an eye on all users to make sure they are behaving responsibly.”
Mr Brannigan says operators of any vessel on the water must be aware of their responsibilities in regard to the Navigation Safety Rules and are liable for any breaches of those rules.
“No one wants to be responsible for a tragedy on our water ways. Let’s all be aware of how our behaviour impacts others and share the space safely.” 
The Manawatū River bylaws include:

  • Speed is not to exceed 5 knots at any time within 50m of any other vessel or person in the water or within 200m of the Manawatū Marine Boating Club boat launching ramp at Foxton Beach;
  • Life jackets must be worn by every person on board a recreational vessel unless the person in charge has given permission not to, and life jackets must still at least be on board;
  • Operators of vessels capable of more than 10 knots must be 15 years or older; and
  • Users are to be aware of waterski and jetski priority areas.
In addition to water vessel safety, Horizons advocates general water hazard safety at all swim spots. This includes asking swimmers to check the monitoring results at before heading out, looking for toxic algae, watching for hazards such as sunken logs, rips at beaches or unstable cliffs, and not swimming until three days after it’s rained.

Horizons administers the Manawatū River and Tributaries Navigation and Safety Bylaw 2010 in accordance with the Local Government Act and under Maritime Rule Part 91 – Navigation Safety Rules.
Horizons will be carrying out monitoring of on water vessel behaviour over the summer period via the Harbourmaster role and with the assistance of their Honorary Manawatū River Enforcement Officers, Manawatū Coastguard, Manawatū Marine Boating Club, and the Foxton Beach Warden Group. Part of this monitoring will be the issuing of Manawatū River Bylaws fact sheets to on water users of the river to ensure that people enjoying these areas and activities can do so in a safe manner.