By 3 News online staff
New targets have been set in an attempt to lower New Zealand's high drowning toll, with a particular focus on men.
Forty water safety organisations have agreed to work together on building a strategy for the next five years to halve the rate of preventable drowning among men, who are four times more likely to drown than women.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge says the discrepancy between genders is partly because men tend to overestimate their swimming abilities and underestimate the conditions.
On average, 103 people drown in New Zealand per year, with up to 80 of those deaths preventable. Men account for 84 percent of the deaths, which is twice the global average.
The plan also looks to bring the overall preventable drowning toll down from 77 to 50, reduce hospitalisations from 172 to 100 and the preventable drowning of pre-schoolers from six to zero.
Mr Claridge says the targets are ambitious but achievable and will need to focus on changing attitudes and behaviours around water.
"The sector will work together to deliver new and innovative programmes, engage in research, set the policy agenda and resource drowning prevention initiatives according to what will have the greatest impact."
Surf Life Saving NZ chief executive Paul Dalton hopes the collaborative approach will make New Zealanders realise how serious the country's drowning toll is.