No-cost dive course popular with youth

By Talisa Kupenga

The no-cost freedive course Ngā Kawa o Tangaroa is proving popular amongst youth, with every spot on the 18-space roll filled in its first term. The class is in its fifth week, and youth are already adding essential skills to make gathering seafood for the whānau a safer exercise.

Youth are learning essential safety skills to become super seafood gatherers for their families.

"So far I've learnt to dive properly and use the correct swimming gear and I've learnt how to do the rescue position and put [your hand] under the jaw. I'm enjoying it a lot. It's good fun meeting new people,” said student Bailey Matthews.

The free twelve-week class, run through Te Whānau o Waipareira Trust and funded by the Henderson Massey local board, is held twice a week with nine youth per session. The programme incorporates tikanga Māori elements for diving at sea.

"Our rangatahi and our whānau that are within Tāmaki Makaurau have sort of been disconnected from that tikanga and I think it's really important nowadays to have this taonga this treasure and this resource available," said programme coordinator Donovan Busby.

The youth have learnt how to save an aggressive drowner, how to equalise and hand signals used by divers to communicate while in the water.

Busby says, "As you can see their attitudes are awesome they love it. It's a hands-on kaupapa for them. They just love getting in the water because all they can envisage is all the kaimoana that they're going to get."

In the coming weeks the youth will be fitted with their own top-to-toe dive kit before hitting the water to put their new water safety and diving skills to the test before graduation.

*Picture: Te Kāea Archive