New Zealanders are over-confident in the water, Newsroom reveals, and it’s contributing to our appalling drowning statistics. In the 19th Century, drowning was called the New Zealand disease, and even now Aotearoa has a 44% higher 10-year average beach and coastal drowning rate per capita than Australia. “The Kiwi ‘can-do’ attitude is catching us out”, says Surf Life Saving’s national surf and rescue manager Allan Mundy.