Working to reduce Maori childhood drowning

Tuesday 15 May 2012, 1:03PM
By WaterSafe Auckland

As the world recognises International Water Safety Day, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Puau Te Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa in Glen Innes, Auckland, is revelling in the positive outcomes achieved in the few short weeks since a portable pool was installed under WaterSafe Auckland’s Pools2Schools™ KiwiSport initiative funded by Sport Auckland.

Maori account for nearly half of all drownings in the 0-15yr age group*  and in an effort to reverse this trend WaterSafe Auckland (WAI) has been working closely with the Kura since the beginning of term, taking a holistic approach to aquatic education whereby knowledge and critical thinking goes hand in hand with the physical skills of swimming and survival.

“Having support to guide us, not just with swimming lessons but with water safety and survival skills has been vital.” says teacher Linda Rudolph. “Water safety is extremely important for our students as they move in to the wharekura because they need to be proficient in swimming and water safety skills in order to participate in waka teetee activities. Furthermore, developing survival skills in the water is imperative to the safety of our tamariki who are the core of our philosophy.”

This holistic approach to aquatic education is a proven pathway for students,” says WAI Business Manager Teresa Stanley, “it can and does save lives. As Linda has highlighted, having that critical thinking is vital to the children to being able to keep themselves safer around water, particularly as they engage more in aquatic activities and they also play an important role in imparting that knowledge to their whanau.”  

International Water Safety Day, May 15, is aimed at educating youth in becoming safer in and around water while spreading awareness about drowning, which remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children (0-15yrs) in New Zealand. 

Being safer in the water is not just about learning it swim, but having the knowledge to make safer decisions in and around water and fundamental to this are simple consistent messages such as can be found within the International Open Water Drowning Prevention Guidelines*  which provide strategies for keeping one’s self and others safe regardless of location and activity.



For more information or interviews contact:

Teresa Stanley
Business Manager, WaterSafe Auckland
Ph 027 285 9045 Email   

Chris Burton
Aquatic Education Facilitator, WaterSafe Auckland
Ph 027 846 6381 Email

WaterSafe Auckland is the acknowledged lead agency for water safety coordination and education in the Auckland region. As one of the four service delivery amenities under the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Act 2008, WaterSafe Auckland is mandated by the ratepayers of Auckland to deliver water safety education to meet the needs of those living in and visiting the region.

43 percent of NZ drowning deaths (2007-2011) in the 0-4yr age group and 42 percent for 5-14yrs. DrownBase™. Water Safety New Zealand.

* International Open Water Drowning Prevention Guidelines

Keep Yourself Safe


  • Learn swimming and water safety survival skills
  • Always swim with others
  • Obey all safety signs and warning flags
  • Never go in the water after drinking alcohol
  • Know how and when to use a lifejacket
  • Swim in areas with lifeguards
  • Know the water and weather conditions before getting in the water
  • Always enter shallow and unknown water feet first


Keep Children and Others Safe

  • Help and encourage others, especially children, to learn swimming and water safety survival skills
  • Swim in areas with lifeguards
  • Set water safety rules
  • Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water
  • Know how and when to use lifejackets, especially with children and weak swimmers
  • Learn first aid and CPR
  • Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger
  • Obey all safety signs and warning flags

For further information on the Guidelines visit