Water Safety NZ partners with Māori to save lives

updated By Bronson Perich

On average Māori account for over 20 percent of all preventable and non-preventable drowning fatalities, despite comprising only 15 percent of the nation’s population. To stem the tide of tragedy, Water Safety New Zealand (Haumaru Wai O Aotearoa) knows that working with Māori is key. To fund their partnerships, ACC have granted Water Safety $1 million for a two year pilot scheme.

Pererika Makiha (Te Arawa), WSNZ spokesperson says, "Thanks again to that group, ACC, for that funding, so that they can support us, here at Water Safety NZ."

Water Safety NZ sought funding so that they could engage with Māori organisations across the country. This funds their water safety programmes.

Makiha, continues, “What we ultimately want is safety for our children, our grandchildren, and elders."

The funding will help Te Taitimu Trust introduce a water safety programme to a kōhanga reo in Flaxmere. Zack Makoare, chief executive of Te Taitimu Trust says:

“Working with our very young ones, and their parents, so it’s about mobilising our whānau, to think around, the aspects of safety, around water, kia maanu, kia ora, which is stay afloat, stay alive.”

Ngāti Porou Surf Lifesaving Club Wānanga / Facebook used with permission from Club Founder

Ngāti Porou Surf Life Saving is NZ's top recruiter of Surf Lifesavers. They will use their funding to train more volunteers. They recently held a training workshop on the use of Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRB).

“First time we’ve had all the surf lifesaving clubs from the Tairāwhiti district, Waikanae, Wainui, Midway, they were part of it, Uawa’s also part of that rōpū coming to Wharekahika to run the workshop,” says, Peter Boyd, 30 year life guard veteran and club founder.

The pilot is split into two rounds of one year tests and will be accessed by ACC in 2020.