A new vi­sion for wa­ter safety in the Waikato

Waipa Post - - News -

A group of com­mu­nity lead­ers brought to­gether by Wa­ter Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) are set­ting the vi­sion for a new wa­ter safety strat­egy for the Waikato.

WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says ev­ery re­gion in New Zealand faces unique chal­lenges in drown­ing pre­ven­tion and so­lu­tions need to be com­mu­nity-led with real en­gage­ment at grass­roots.

“Despite all the ef­forts from ev­ery­one over the last 10 years, the drown­ing toll isn’t com­ing down,” he says. “Some­thing must change. We need a cul­tural shift in the way we ap­proach wa­ter safety. We need com­mu­ni­ties to get in­volved and lead the change.”

Wa­ter safety stake­hold­ers say ‘busi­ness as usual’ will not achieve this. In 2017 Waikato had one of the six high­est drown­ing tolls in New Zealand, despite a re­duc­tion in 2016. In 2017, 20 per cent of all river drown­ings in New Zealand were in the Waikato.

“Ad­dress­ing these chal­lenges re­quires en­gage­ment with com­mu­nity lead­ers who un­der­stand the is­sues,” Jonty says. This in­cludes en­gage­ment with iwi and Ma¯ ori or­gan­i­sa­tions in the Waikato.

“Ma¯ori are over­rep­re­sented in Waikato drown­ings and over the past decade the Ma¯ori drown­ing rate in the Waikato was higher than the na­tional av­er­age.”

The gov­er­nance group set up by WSNZ in­cludes Sport Waikato CEO Matthew Cooper, Perry Group CEO Si­mon Perry, Waikato Tainui CEO Donna Flavell, Trust Waikato CEO Den­nis Tur­ton, Wa­ter Safety New Zealand CEO Jonty Mills and Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil CEO Vaughan Payne.

The four main ar­eas the strat­egy will fo­cus on are wa­ter safety skills de­vel­op­ment, recre­ational boat­ing safety, fresh wa­ter safety and beach and ocean safety.

They have dif­fer­ent chal­lenges and stake­hold­ers.

The fi­nal plan will be tai­lored to the Waikato and iden­tify ini­tia­tive and in­vest­ment pri­or­i­ties for each area.

Jonty says over the next two to three years WSNZ will de­velop a se­ries of re­gional wa­ter safety strate­gies across New Zealand by di­rectly en­gag­ing with re­gional or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“The ob­jec­tive is to de­velop co­or­di­nated and col­lab­o­ra­tive ac­tion plans to help re­duce drown­ing deaths and in­juries, and build a cul­ture of safe en­joy­ment around wa­ter,” he says. The com­mu­nity is in­vited to take part in dis­cus­sion fo­rums.

- Sport Waikato, Brian Perry Sports House, Ako­ranga Drive, Hamil­ton: Thurs­day, Oc­to­ber 25, 5pm to 7.30pm.

- Te Ku¯ iti High School pavil­ion, 21 Hos­pi­tal Road: Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 26, 5pm to 7.30pm.

- Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil Nga¯ru­awa¯hia of­fice, 15 Galileo Street: Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 30, 5pm — 7.30pm.

These will be where all peo­ple in­ter­ested in wa­ter safety can dis­cuss in more depth the chal­lenges, is­sues and op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Waikato.

Reg­is­tra­tion to at­tend is re­quired by email­ing Sport Waikato at re­cep­tion@sport­waikato.org.nz or call­ing He­len Hal­lKing on 07 858-5388.

The in­for­ma­tion col­lected will then be fed back to the gov­er­nance group which will in­form the de­vel­op­ment of the strat­egy.

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