Stay safe at sea

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE DAW­SON

A CAM­PAIGN to bet­ter equip Pa­cific Is­lan­ders for New Zealand’s mar­itime con­di­tions has kicked off and is gain­ing mo­men­tum with a sum­mer of fish­ing just around the cor­ner.

A multi-agency ef­fort in­volv­ing ACC, Coast­guard and Mar­itime New Zealand is aim­ing to make the tragic drown­ings that have made news in re­cent years a thing of the past.

Com­mu­nity groups are also in­volved and among those help­ing de­liver the pro­gramme is the Rev Iki Pope of the One­hunga Co­op­er­at­ing Par­ish.

Mr Pope says the key mes­sage is that New Zealand wa­ters are dif­fer­ent from those in the Pa­cific Is­lands and re­quire closer at­ten­tion.

He says many Pa­cific Is­lan­ders are con­fi­dent in their home wa­ters where they might have fished and pad­dled for years. The water is of­ten warmer and the weather less change­able.

‘‘Coming from the is­lands peo­ple are fa­mil­iar and com­fort­able with the sea,’’ Mr Pope says.

‘‘But here the con­text

is dif­fer­ent. They have to be aware of the cold weather, the cur­rents and the fore­casts – it is very dif­fer­ent.’’

Fail­ing to pre­pare for change­able con­di­tions is where some have come un­stuck in the past.

‘‘They have to train to know those things, to help them sur­vive.

‘‘They have to be well pre­pared be­fore go­ing out fish­ing . . . wear a life jacket, check the forecast and know the con­tact num­ber to call if you get in trou­ble.’’

Get­ting the mes­sage through to the Pa­cific com- mu­nity also re­quires a dif­fer­ent ap­proach, Mr Pope says.

‘‘We have to try tac­tics to con­vince peo­ple to get the mes­sage.

‘‘For ex­am­ple, I wore a life jacket in the pul­pit in church one Sun­day, and we give cer­tifi­cates to those who com­plete water safety cour­ses in front of the church so all the fam­i­lies would see.’’

Run­ning cour­ses where Pa­cific peo­ple ac­cess the water – like from Man­gere Bridge – also helps.

‘‘Bring­ing it here makes it eas­ier for them to par­tic­i­pate.’’

Mr Pope says the mes­sage is get­ting through and mem­bers of his church are mak­ing the changes re­quired to be­come safe fish­er­men.

‘‘Our church loves fish­ing, es­pe­cially the men, but there is the is­sue of drown­ing and prob­lems with water safety,’’ he says.

‘‘We’re try­ing to solve the is­sue of the drown­ing of Pa­cific Is­lan­ders.’’

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Keep safe: The Rev Iki Pope of the One­hunga Co-op­er­at­ing Par­ish is spread­ing the water safety word to mem­bers of his church.

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