Kenny Espinosa, 26, was on summer break from studying nursing and on holiday in Whangarei, north of Auckland at the time.
“For the family and friends of Kenny Espinosa we extend our heartfelt condolences and love”
According to witnesses, while swimming at Whangarei Falls, he began to struggle before failing to resurface. Police divers later recovered his body.
In the aftermath of Espinosa’s death, New Zealand industry stakeholders have called for more education around water safety for international students.
“All drownings are tragic especially for family and friends, and may be avoidable if appropriate education is received and acted on,” ISANA New Zealand president Terry McGrath said.
“International students are vulnerable as frequently their intuitive understanding of water and weather conditions has been set in another context where temperature, wind, wave and water flows along with waterborne hazards, may result in confidence in the water when caution is required.”
Under New Zealand’s pastoral code of practice, providers must ensure students are well informed of safety issues on and off campus, however, there are no specific references to water safety.
Speaking with The PIE News, McGrath said ISANA NZ believed water safety education should be provided to international students as either part of orientation or extra-curricular activities.
“For the family and friends of Kenny Espinosa we extend our heartfelt condolences and love and express the hope that his death will create greater motivation for the inclusion of programs to build awareness of water safety,” he said.
International students in both New Zealand and Australia have been vulnerable to drownings, with a South Korean student also dying in New South Wales in December.
Both countries have developed water safety programs at city and state levels, but no national programs exist at this time.