No life jacket, shoddy dingy led to death

  • 21/11/2015
No life jacket, shoddy dingy led to death

A shoddy dinghy, long gumboots and no life jacket contributed to the death of a 65-year-old Invercargill man.

Werahikoterernga Kenneth Katene drowned after falling into the Oreti River while trying to retrieve weights on his whitebait net in November last year, coroner David Crerar says in findings released this month.

The dinghy overturned and was found submerged.

Mr Katene's wife, Muriel, described him as a keen whitebaiter and strong swimmer.

He had little experience with boats, but said the dinghy allowed him to catch more whitebait.

Mr Crerar said the 3.15m aluminium dinghy was four decades old and likely near the end of its life.

It's brittle material and lack of repair would have contributed to its instability and it was not fit for use, he said.

"If the dinghy had been better constructed and better maintained, it may have been more stable."

Mr Katene was wearing long gumboots and heavy lower clothing and even a strong swimmer would have struggled, Mr Crerar said.

The unworn life jacket in the boat may have helped but friends and family said he refused to wear one despite urging him to do so.

Mr Crerar urged people to wear life jackets before "exposing themselves to danger".