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Swimming PoolsNgā puna kaukau

The requirements and responsibilities of being a pool owner with particular regard to Fencing.

Swimming Pool Fencing

Your responsibilities as a pool owner

Drowning is a major cause of accidental death of infants and young children. Many of these drownings occur in private, unfenced or inadequately fenced pools.

Does my pool need fencing?

If your pool is 400mm deep or more, it is required to be fenced properly.

You do not need fencing if:

  • The pool sits above ground with smooth vertical walls that are 1.2m or more high, with no permanent steps for children to climb over into the pool.
  • The pool water is less than 400mm (like a shallow paddling pool or an empty swimming pool). Note that a responsible adult should supervise use of paddling pools at all times.
  • The pool is inside your house, for example, an indoor spa pool.
  • People are employed specifically to supervise the pool when it is in use, and the entire pool facility is locked at all other times. 

What sort of fencing does my pool need?

Fencing must fully enclose the pool area. It should prevent young children from moving directly into the pool area from the house, other buildings, garden paths or other parts of the property.

A boundary fence on its own may suffice as a pool fence, providing it meets compliance requirements and there is nothing on the other side of the fence, like close horizontal rails, a stack of firewood or trellis that a child could climb over.

The fence

  • The fence must be at least 1.2m high at every point around the entire length of the outside of the fence.
  • The fence must not be able to be climbed. Any perforated material (trellis, mesh or netting) must have gaps no wider than 10mm if the fence is 1.2m high, or gaps no wider than 50mm if the fence is 1.8m high. Any horizontal supports on the outside of the fence must be at least 900mm apart.
  • The fence must be at least 1.2m higher than any permanent climbable object or protrusion that is within 1.2m of the fence.
  • There must be no space greater than 100mm between the fence pickets or rails, or under the fence. 

Gates and doors

  • Gates and doors must open away from the pool.
  • Every gate must be fitted with a self-closing and self-latching device that self-closes and self-latches from a static start of 15cm.
  • The outside latches must be at least 1.5m above the ground to keep them out of reach of small children.
  • The inside latch must not be accessible by reaching through the gate unless the hole in the gate is at least 1.2m above ground level.
  • There must be no object near the gate that could hold it open. 

What if my pool is right next to a building?

The wall of a building may form part of the fence if it complies with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act. 

  • Any doors that provide direct access to the pool must be self-closing and self-latching, and must be fitted with a locking device at least 1.5m from the floor level. They must not be fitted with any device that can hold them open.
  • Windows lower than 1.2m from the inside floor must be fitted with limiters that prevent the windows opening more than 100mm. 

What is the ‘immediate pool area’?

The immediate pool area is the area that is directly related to the use of the pool. It may include a pump shed and changing rooms, decking or paving, pool furniture and a barbecue/dining area.

It should not include the whole backyard, even if the boundary is fenced. The pool area should not be a thoroughfare or used for other outdoor activities like clotheslines, vegetable gardens or children’s play equipment.

What about lockable spa pool covers?

Lockable spa pool covers do not comply with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act, so spa pools must also be fenced. Unfenced spa pools fitted with lockable covers must have a special exemption from the Council.

Drowning is quick and quiet

90% of children who drown in home pools are residents or visitors to the property.

Supervision and education are not sufficient to prevent preschool drownings. In many cases, drowning occur with a parent or caregiver on the property who has only taken their eyes off the child for a few moments.

Incidents of child drowning have reduced by more than half since the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act was introduced in 1987.


The pool owner is responsible for installing and maintaining pool fencing that is safe and effective.

The council is required by law to make sure that pool fences comply with the Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016. For this reason Central Hawke’s Bay District Council carries out pool fencing inspections.  

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council currently inspects pool fencing as required during the building consent process. The most at-risk pools are usually found in older homes that have not recently been through the building consent process. The council has prepared a proactive district-wide pool inspection programme that will commence  in 2017, with a priority focus on owners of swimming pools that are not currently fenced.


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