WorkSafe New Zealand and Water Safety New Zealand are uniting to call for greater care around ponds, dams, and water bores, in light of new figures on drownings.

Since 2013, ponds, dams, and water bores have claimed the lives of 16 people across Aotearoa. Five of those were workplace fatalities, mostly on farms, however one victim was three-year old Lachlan Jones who was found in a Gore District Council wastewater pond.

The Council has been sentenced for its part in the January 2019 death, for failing to design, install and maintain fencing to prevent children from accessing the ponds and to deter other members of the public from doing so.

“Lachlan’s death is a tragedy, and all of our thoughts are with his family. Although this occurred on council property, there are lessons for all businesses and organisations to heed,” says WorkSafe’s Head of Specialist Interventions, Dr Catherine Gardner.

“In particular, farms often have water hazards which should be mapped out. These are workplaces, so think closely about fencing around play areas, animal pens, work areas and water spots. Although you may know where these hazards are and to be careful, not everybody who comes onto your site does and you are responsible for their safety,” says Dr Gardner.

The youngest of the 16 pond drowning victims in the last decade was aged just 1.

“Tragically, Lachlan Jones is not alone in this grim tally. Half of these victims were children, which is eight young lives lost that could’ve been prevented,” says Water Safety New Zealand’s spokesperson, Gavin Walker.

“People don’t just drown at the beach, so those managing water hazards must take action to reduce the chance that another life is needlessly lost. Assume that anyone, including kids, will find their way to ponds, dams, or water bores on your site.”

Read more about WorkSafe prosecutions


  • Gore District Council was sentenced at the Gore District Court on 6 March 2023
  • Judge Walker ordered reparations of $110,000 and a $0 fine due to impact on ratepayers
  • Gore District Council was charged under sections 37(1), 49(1) and (2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015
    • Being a PCBU who controls or manages a workplace, namely the Gore Oxidation Ponds at Grasslands Road, Gore (the Ponds), failed to ensure so far as was reasonably practicable, that that workplace was without risks to the health and safety of any person, including Lachlan Paul Graham Jones.
  • The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $500,000

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