Muhammad Ehsan Zakaria, a 24-year-old Malaysian man, drowned in New Zealand on Friday 15 January 2021.

Muhammad was swimming with friends at Pinders Pond – a popular swimming spot in central Otago – when he failed to resurface. His body was located the same evening by police divers.

Pinders Pond in Central Otago – (Photo: Facebook)

In a statement the High Commission of Malaysia in New Zealand described Muhammad as a former student sponsored by Malaysian Government agency Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) in Auckland.

No photo description available.

Malaysian media outlet My Metro reported that Muhammad worked on a fruit plantation, and was a Bachelor of Accounting graduate from the University of Auckland.

Drowning risk for international students in New Zealand

If you are studying in New Zealand, or you intend to, it is almost certain that part of that adventure will involve swimming, and other activities in and around water.

New Zealand’s main promotional website – 100% Pure New Zealand –  has a section dedicated to water activities. It notes that “Kiwis love the water” and describes the country as a “water sports mecca”.

With the opportunity for fun and adventure comes serious risk:

  • In New Zealand drowning is the top cause of recreational death, the second highest cause of death by unintentional injury for 1 – 24 year olds, and the third highest cause of accidental death.
  • In 2017 there were 92 preventable drowning fatalities. The five year average (2012 – 2016) is 79. 
  • New Zealand’s drowning rate per 100,000 of population is twice that of Australia and four times that of the UK.

In summary, as an international student in New Zealand you can have great fun in the water, but the risk of death or serious injury is very real.

Below is a list of other drowning incidents in New Zealand in which international students have died:

Learn about water safety in New Zealand

Don’t become a victim. Learn about water safetyTake the FREE Water Safety Course.

It could save your life.

Source: Otago Daily Times, The Vibes