26 Jan 2016

Drowned crab fisher ignored lifeguards' warnings

5:45 pm on 26 January 2016

A coroner has found that a Chinese crab-fisher who drowned at a Northland beach ignored the advice of lifeguards to stay out of the water.

Heng Li, 22, drowned at Uretiti Beach south of Whangarei, on Christmas Day 2014.

He was one of a crowd of about 600 people from Auckland's Asian community, who have in recent years descended on the beach at Christmas.

Coroner Brandt Shortland found Mr Li drowned trying to retrieve his crab pot because he could not swim in the rough and choppy surf.

Surf Lifesavers had warned him it was too dangerous to enter the water.

The coroner said the death was the third of its kind at Uretiti and he endorsed recent efforts by the police to educate Chinese and Korean visitors about the beach.

He said local residents and Ngati Wai were also unhappy about the human waste and rubbish left on the beach each year by the crab fishers.