Huka Falls dare­devil: ‘I was pre­pared for it’

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON AND KRIS DANDO

A man who shot the Huka Falls rapids on a board no big­ger than his torso has been con­demned as reck­less.

And it wasn’t the first time he’d done it.

Porirua man Hay­ley Patuwai, 32, cap­tured at­ten­tion when a video of him go­ing over Huka Falls near Taupo on a boo­gie board went vi­ral.

Patuwai - who calls him­self Dr Bub­bles - said the Waikato River stunt was three years in the plan­ning.

‘‘[I] jumped in a year ago to test the pres­sure. It’s 3000 met­ric tonnes of wa­ter per sec­ond ... I was pre­pared,’’ Patuwai said.

‘‘I knew I could han­dle it. Peo­ple might ask why I didn’t wear safety ap­pa­ra­tus, but that works against the wa­ter.’’

Huka Falls are on the Waikato River, 4 kilo­me­tres north of Lake Taupo.

The vol­ume of wa­ter flow­ing through the falls sec­tion of the river is about 220,000 litres per sec­ond - enough to fill an Olympic-sized swim­ming pool in 11 sec­onds.

The falls are about 11 me­tres high.

Patuwai, who has no so­cial media ac­count, said he wasn’t ex­pect­ing his stunt to be recorded Facebook.

‘‘I want to be seen at a dis­tance. I do chal­lenges for my­self, not the at­ten­tion,’’ he said.

Patuwai has a rep­u­ta­tion for stunts. In 2008, he kayaked from Ti­tahi Bay in Porirua across Cook Strait to Pic­ton, spark­ing a search.

Wa­ter Safety NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive Jonty Mills also said Patuwai’s ac­tions were ir­re­spon­si­ble.

‘‘From and a posted on drown­ing- preven­tion per­spec­tive, which is what we ad­vo­cate for, it’s clearly ir­re­spon­si­ble and dan­ger­ous and ex­tremely high risk,’’ Mills said.

‘‘It’s like play­ing Rus­sian roulette and ul­ti­mately roulette will win in a sit­u­a­tion like that.’’

Mills said it was a good ex­am­ple of why men make up 85 per­cent of all pre­ventable drown­ings.

‘‘They over­es­ti­mate their abil­ity and un­der­es­ti­mate the risks.’’

VIR­GINIA FAL­LON/FAIRFAX NZ

Hay­ley Patuwai, 32, boo­gie boarded down Huka Falls.

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