Social media blamed for crowds visiting dangerous Omanawa Falls

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The dangers of visiting the scenic Omanawa Falls in western Bay of Plenty have been tragically exposed again after the death of a man there on Sunday.

Omanawa Falls

Omanawa Falls. Photo: SunLive

Visitors and photographers continue to climb down the steep cliff face made popular by social media, despite large warning signs stating the area is closed.

But a number of people have needed rescuing over the years after becoming seriously injured, while one person drowned at the falls in 2018.

Local hapū Ngāti Hangarau have been stationed at the falls through the summer, educating visitors on the site’s dangers, and its cultural significance.

Hapū spokesperson Koro Nicholas told Morning Report another death was bound to happen if people kept ignoring the rules.

“We are there to try and stop people from going. Unfortunately, we can’t be there 24 hours a day. This death is an unfortunate occurrence, very sorry for the whānau that are involved. There’s no anger on our part, there are blatant warning signs there throughout the property.

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“We try our best to deter people from going but we’ve found no matter how high you build the fence or wide you build the fence people will always try to find a way to this very dangerous property.”

He said people still continued to visit the falls, even those who had heard about the death.

“Very strange, the pull of social media on these people – it is one of the top 10 things that people try to do locally, and from overseas.”

It was raining heavily the day the incident occurred, Nicholas said.

He said there was a very strong social media influence pushing people to head to the falls – including providing information on how to access the falls.

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