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Lake warning signs translated to keep visitors safe

Tuesday, 1 July 2014 3:00 p.m.

Warning signs at Rotorua lakes have been translated into German and Mandarin to ensure tourists and visitors are alerted to danger spots in the lakes.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council has had translations made of the English language danger signs warning of steep drop-offs at Lake Tarawera, and warnings not to swim within ski lanes at Lake Okareka and Lake Rotoma. German and Mandarin were chosen as the majority of visitors who prefer freedom camping use these languages.

Regional Council Maritime Officer Ross Powell said translating the signs would make it easier for non-English speaking visitors to understand dangers in the lakes safer – and hopefully save some lives.

“I spoke to tourism operators, and they advised us of what messages tourists would react to. As long as the message works and keeps more people safe, the translations will have been successful. We don’t want any more drownings in our lakes,” he said.

“We also have a lot of freedom campers who have been swimming in the ski lanes, so it was necessary to tell people not to swim between the black and orange poles that indicate the ski lanes.”

A Watersafe NZ study has found Asian nationalities were over-represented in drowning statistics, making up 12 percent of the national drowning toll. Asian nationalities also often had limited knowledge or skill in water safety or small boat safety, the organisation says.

The new signs will be erected by the end of July.