Media release

ORC urges safety on the water as Labour Weekend approaches

Tuesday 19 October 2021

This Labour Weekend, as the summer boating season kicks off, Otago Regional Council Harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook is hoping for another year of good boating behaviour on the water.

Labour Weekend is traditionally the start of the recreational boating season in Aotearoa New Zealand, with hundreds of people taking to Otago’s coastal waters, harbours, lakes and rivers for boating recreation each week throughout the summer.

“Some boaties may be pulling their boat out of storage for the first time in a while, so taking the time to do a thorough check of the vessel and all gear is vital. Prep your boat, check the conditions and know the rules,” the Harbourmaster urged.

“Others may have been part of the rush to buy a new boat as people stay home and find ways to enjoy themselves with the border closed. For those new to boating, please stop, think and find out about basic boating safety rules to protect you and your loved ones.”

Labour Weekend is part of Safer Boating Week, which kicked off on Monday. Steve wants to embed the Campaign’s key messages into the community’s minds so that everyone stays safe on the water this summer.

The theme of this year’s campaign is, “The water is calling”, urging people to “Know the ways of the water before you let go of the land” and ensure they have a safer boating plan sorted.

“Safer Boating Week is about trying to raise awareness and change behaviours to see everyone going out on boats to be fully prepared if danger should strike,” the Harbourmaster said.

“No matter if you’re on a power boat, jet ski or kayak, remembering the boating safety code is integral.”

The Boating Safety Code reinforces five key messages:

  1. Wear your lifejacket
  2. Take two waterproof ways to call for help
  3. Check the marine weather forecast
  4. Avoid alcohol – booze and boats don’t mix
  5. Be a responsible skipper


Deputy Harbourmaster Pete Dryden (left) and Harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook with the harbourmaster’s vessel, Kaitiaki.

Deputy Harbourmaster Pete Dryden (left) and Harbourmaster Steve Rushbrook with the harbourmaster’s vessel, Kaitiaki.


The Harbourmaster’s team will be on the water to keep an eye out and engage with the community throughout summer. This includes taking part in Maritime New Zealand’s “No Excuses” campaign for the third year in a row.

No Excuses sees Maritime NZ and our Harbourmasters randomly checking on boaties to ensure they are using lifejackets appropriately and travelling at safe speeds.

More information on safer boating tips can be found on ORC’s website at

The Harbourmaster’s office can be contacted on 027 201 0592.