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Published: 2013-05-31 00:00:00

A new boating rule aimed at saving lives on Waikato waterways has been endorsed by Waikato Regional Council, making it compulsory to wear lifejackets.

The rule is one of the key changes to the Navigation Safety Bylaw adopted by the council yesterday, bringing Waikato’s lifejacket rules in line with four other regions in New Zealand.

The draft bylaw was released for public feedback last December, with the council considering the views and feedback of 211 submitters.

Cr Norm Barker, chair of the bylaw review hearings panel, said: “We were delighted with the level of engagement we had from the boating community. Submitters came from all over the Waikato and outside of the region to provide feedback on the proposed bylaw.”

Three-quarters of submitters supported the new lifejacket rule, which comes into effect from 1 July 2013.

At all times a correctly-fitting lifejacket still must be carried for each person on board a vessel. The new rule requires that they now must also be worn when a vessel of six metres or less is underway.

Changes have also been made to the speed limit within proximity to shore on inland waterways, providing improved consistency for those boating on inland waters across the region. 

The 5 knot speed limit now applies to vessels travelling within 30 metres of the shore on inland waterways. However, there will be some exceptions in areas of the Waihou, Waipa and upper Waikato rivers, so boaties are urged to make sure they know the rules prior to 1 July.

The bylaw review focused on ensuring consistency with national maritime rules and clarifying wording for thousands of Waikato water users.

The council also wanted to improve safety for all water users, especially with the region’s inland and coastal waterways becoming increasingly accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

The bylaw impacts recreational activities, including power boating, kayaking, yachting, jetskiing and swimming.

Its purpose is to provide for safe use within all navigable waters of the Waikato region, excluding Lake Taupō which is under the Department of Internal Affairs jurisdiction.

To read the bylaw, visit