Engaging Newly Settled New Zealanders in Water Safety

Engaging Newly Settled New Zealanders in Water Safety

At the end of March one of our Aquatic Educators, Leilani Fuemana, presented at the Virtual Pre-Conference Global Injury Prevention Showcase for 2021. Drowning prevention was a key focus of the showcase.

Leilani talked to participants about Drowning Prevention Auckland’s work in ‘Engaging Newly Settled New Zealanders in Water Safety’. Leilani was one of four presenters who showcased in the drowning factors session. Other presenters represented: Surf Lifesaving Australia, Royal Life Saving Society and Water Safe New Zealand.

To engage with newly settled New Zealanders we use the three guiding principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Partnerships, Participation and Protection. Engaging newly settled New Zealanders in water safety is a high priority for us. We know that Tāmaki Makaurau is one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities with over a quarter of residents (28%) identifying with one or more Asian ethnic groups. The issue we face is that over a quarter (27%) of Tāmaki Makaurau’s preventable drownings from 2015-2019 identify as Asian or Other. 

Click below to watch Leilani as she shares about the ‘Gender Specific Water Competence Programme’ that was created for women that contributes to reducing this disparity while giving all woman an opportunity to learn how to become more water competent.

New Early Childhood e-Learning module

New Early Childhood e-Learning module

On the eve of a nationwide strategy being released to tackle the country’s drowning statistics, Drowning Prevention Auckland is seeking to highlight the dangers that tamariki can get into without raising an alarm.

The New Zealand Water Safety Sector Strategy 2025 will facilitate a coordinated effort between a number of agencies, including Drowning Prevention Auckland.

Under-fives are a key area of focus in the strategy, with official figures showing that twenty-four tamariki aged under-five have drowned in New Zealand in the past five years (from 2016 to 2020). And it’s not just swimming pools causing issues warns chief executive Nicola Keen-Biggelaar.

Mum supervising kids by paddling pool

“When our youngsters get into trouble in the water, it’s not often that they’re able to cry for help. The younger they are, the more likely they are unable to lift their head to keep their airways clear of water. The less comfortable or confident they are in the water, the more likely they are to panic.”

While half of those aged under five who drown do so in home pools, there is an emerging trend of drownings happening in other, often unexpected places – ponds, drains, creeks, even bathtubs.

“Water is particularly attractive to infants and pre-schoolers. As soon as they become mobile, they are able to access any water left in or around the home. Pēpi have drowned in is as little as four centimetres of water,” says Ms Keen-Biggelaar.

Early Childhood
e-learning module

To help parents and caregivers keep tamariki safe, the organisation has added a new training module to its eLearning programme. The training module reinforces the need to provide barriers in and around the home and ensure there is appropriate supervision, especially when outside.

Access the e-learning module

Click the button below to enter the e-learning module

More than three quarters (83 per cent) of those under five who have drowned in the past five years are male, a marked change from previous years when it has traditionally been a lot more even.

“We’re seeing young boys get into trouble more frequently – possibly the result of risk taking and over confidence. It’s really important that you keep a close eye on youngsters you’re in charge of, particularly if they have a tendency to get into mischief.”

Some tips from the module:

Creating Barriers Indoors

Shut bathroom and toilet doors, empty baths after use and store the plug out of reach.

Keep them safe around the home - outside

Empty paddling pools and water containers and store them out of reach, or on their side so they don’t fill up with rainwater.

Open Water Environments

When outside at picnics and get-togethers with family and friends, ensure there is always at least one designated adult supervisor, who undertakes a regular head count.

Supervision is key

Supervise with constant visual contact and proximity. Avoid distractions such as talking on, or looking at a phone.

Diving Safety at Waitangi

Diving Safety at Waitangi

Waitangi Diving wānanga participants

The Drowning Prevention Auckland team were lucky enough to spend a week in Northland for a Waitangi Water Safety promotion, alongside Water Safety New Zealand this February. The week was built around manaakitanga and rangatiratanga with a focus on educating whānau to be safe in, on and around water.

During this week the team delivered their first diving safety wānanga in Northland. They engaged with local hapū and iwi organisations as well as Ngā Puhi iwi social services to help promote the wānanga. Overall, there was a fantastic response from whānau that they were interested in learning about good diving practice. A good number of participants took part in the three session wānanga.

Whānau responded interested

Theory session participants

Practical pool session participants

Open water dive participants

Following the wānanga the team delivered a dive workshop to 30 kaihoe (paddlers) preparing for the Waitangi celebration. Stories were shared about how divers get into difficulty and how risk can be reduced through educating whānau on having the correct gear, using buoyancy aids, knowing your ability and fitness and being familiar with the area and environments. 

In addition, the team ran a two-day dive safety stall at the Waitangi grounds alongside Water Safety New Zealand. These two days were filled with many quality interactions, engaging with just over 280 people. The outcomes were outstanding in terms of educating whānau and hearing their voices and stories as they participated in the wānanga and discussions.

This week was a great opportunity for whanaungatanga and kaitiakitanga. Thank you to Water Safety New Zealand for giving us this opportunity, we hope to be back next year. 


When I was young I was taught old styles not having gear. Since doing this course and having all the correct gear its reignited that desire for me to start diving again and to teach my own whānau properly.


Doing this programme open my eyes to having all the right gear especially having buoys to hold your kaimoana, have a rest on and to rescue someone.


I thought I knew a lot about diving but doing this programme I learnt so much. Not having all the right gear can be dangerous especially diving with shoes and not having fins.

Complete our FREE e-learning module: Water Safety for the Māori Community (Te Reo Māori).

Tikanga Marutau Wai Mō te Hapori Māori – E aro atu ana tēnei akoranga ki ngā ngohe wai i roto i te hapori Māori, pēnei mai i te waka ama, ruku kai moana, me te hī ika mā te kupenga.

Splash Breakaway

Splash Breakaway

The Splash Break-away Holiday Programme was designed to work with youth aged between 11- 17 years to stop preventable drownings from happening.

The programme focuses on building tamariki and rangatahi water competence, rather than focusing on swimming skills alone. It incorporates a wide range of recreational water experiences and simulations that puts discussion and theory into a practical format so that in-depth learning can take place.

The Statistics

In the period of 2015-2019 there were 93 preventable drownings in Tamaki Makaurau and 408 in Aotearoa. Drowning is the second highest cause of death as a result of unintentional injury among 1–24 years (WSNZ, 2018). The highest age group for preventable drownings are those aged between 15-24 years of age regionally and nationally.

15 Water Competencies

This programme focuses on the 15 drowning prevention water competencies that is a “sum of all personal aquatic movements that help to prevent drownings as well as the associated water safety knowledge, attitudes values, judgement and behaviours that facilitate safety in, on and around water’ (Moran, 2013., pp4).

Splash Break-away helps to increase knowledge and awareness of the different and unique water environments that are abundant all across Tāmaki Makaurau. The goal is to reduce risky behaviour when participants go on to visit specific water environments such as the beach, local pool, and/or fresh waterholes.

Each participant receives a Splash Break-away certificate on completion, along with the Coastguard Boating Education Programme certificate which is delivered in partnership with Coastguard Boating Education.

Equipping tamariki and rangatahi with aquatic skills is not only for their personal benefit but is also so they can become role models amongst friends and family. Drowning Prevention Auckland are confident that this programme contributes to developing a culture of water safety throughout youth and their families.

Splash is designed for those who would not normally attend a holiday programme by removing barriers for the participant and their family such as financial costs and providing our participants with a free basic lunch and a loan rash shirt for the day.

Drowning Prevention Auckland has been delivering Splash Break-Away since 2009 and continues to expand throughout the Auckland Region. The drowning prevention water competencies that are taught are being more recognised in swim schools and through formal education. Children learn lifelong valuable skills while taking part in this programme.

We would like to thank Oranga Tamariki for the continuous support in funding the break-away programme. Without your funding we would not be able to deliver such a beneficial programme to the number of kids who go through it each year.

Complete the FREE e-learning module: Water Safety for Youth & Young Adults

Early Childhood Water Safety Education Programme

Early Childhood Water Safety Education Programme

As children become mobile they begin to explore their surroundings, however their sense of curiosity and adventure is not matched by an understanding of the possible risks and dangers.

Drowning Prevention Auckland offers parents and caregivers the opportunity to learn more about keeping their under 5s safe in, on and around water so that we can work together to reduce the risk of drowning.

Parent / caregiver in water with under 5

With funding support from Water Safety New Zealand we provide water safety workshops which will enable parents and caregivers to:

  • Develop their own water competence – knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • Be more confident and skilled to provide essential water safety learning for their pre-school children, and to implement appropriate protective practices to keep their children safer in, on and near water.
  • Experience fun and safe activities with their under 5s in frequently accessed water environments.

While water can be fun, exciting and educational, it is potentially dangerous too and unfortunately in New Zealand our drowning statistics reflect this.

Most children aged 0-4 years of age who drown do so around the home environment with almost half in home pools. An emerging trend is an increase in drownings in environments outside, but close to the home, such as ponds, drains, farm troughs, creeks, and estuaries (WSNZ, 2020).

Group of young kids on the beach with adult supervision

The Early Childhood Water Safety Workshops include several components. The first is an indoor workshop to develop knowledge and understanding of water competence and appropriate protective practices to keep children safer around water. Parents and caregivers will then have the opportunity to develop their own and their child/childrens’ water confidence in a controlled environment. These follow-on in-water sessions take place in a pool and/or open water environments, such as the beach, creek, waterfall, pond, stream, and/or lake.

The open water environment sessions are an invaluable part of the programme and give people a real sense of awareness of the dangers and the risk minimisation strategies available when taking young children to these types of environments.

Early Childhood Centres can also have their children participate in fun, interaction and age appropriate sessions which enable the children to know what to do in a water environment, understand why safety measures are in place and why being safe around water at home and out and about is important.

DPA has the capacity for individuals and groups to book the parent/caregiver workshops and ECE childrens’ sessions throughout March, April and May. Get together with a group of friends, or ask your early childhood centre to organise a group of parents to benefit from this opportunity.

Please enquire to: Lynley Stewart [email protected] 021 0820 4183

Let’s Prevent Further Rock Fishing Deaths

Let’s Prevent Further Rock Fishing Deaths

Auckland’s wild and unpredictable West Coast has claimed the lives of two people who were swept off the rocks this week, prompting Drowning Prevention Auckland to kick start its summer rock fishing awareness campaign early.

Five fishers lost their lives off Auckland’s West Coast in late 2005 which prompted the West Coast Rock Fishing Project. We are now in the 15th year of this project which has seen a reduction in preventable rock fishing drownings over the years. Since the introduction of the project in 2006, there has been an average of one rock fishing drowning per year in Auckland. However, recent incidents show the urgent need to continue this project, particularly with more activity anticipated over summer due to our border restrictions. This project is a collaborative intervention by Auckland Council, Drowning Prevention Auckland (DPA), and Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR).

Drowning Prevention Auckland’s Chief Executive, Nicola Keen-Biggelaar said that “one of the effects of Covid-19 has been job loss and people struggling to feed their families. We have noticed an increase of people gathering kai moana without following our water safety advice”. Nicola goes on to say that “our eLearning platform is the first in New Zealand for online learning focussed on water safety and has a segment focussed on rock fishing”.

DPA’s Operations Manager, James Lea, attended the first call out last week, as he is a member of the Bethell’s Beach Surf Lifesaving call out squad. He said, “the waves were big, and they had been caught out by the incoming tide.  The fishermen were not wearing lifejackets and fishing on an unsuitable day for that location”. He added, “it’s a top priority for us to reach other rock fishers to reinforce our key messages to avoid drowning and promote always wearing a lifejacket while rock fishing”.

With a large portion of fishers surveyed indicating an Asian ethnic background combined with the fast-growing Asian community in Auckland, this has prompted DPA to hire a Drowning Prevention Advisor for the Asian Community who will endeavour to connect with, communicate, and educate the Asian community to reduce the drowning toll of our Asian population.

Our small but mighty organisation tries to reach as many Aucklanders as possible throughout the year in person through our Aquatic Educators. For the people that we have not yet educated in person we have a FREE eLearning module on safer rock fishing. We ask all fishers to go through this module and remember the key messages and learning before going rock fishing.

DPA’s Aquatic Educator, Harry Aonga, pleas that anyone going rock fishing remembers to wear a lifejacket and correct clothing, for them to check the conditions, and for them to be aware of waves and swells especially on our West Coast.

Remember; don’t underestimate the risks; and don’t overestimate your ability.

Visit the eLearning module: https://www.dpanz.org.nz/courses/safer-rock-fishing/

2020 Annual General Meeting & Forum

2020 Annual General Meeting & Forum

2pm, Thursday 26th November 2020
85 Westhaven Drive, Westhaven, Auckland

2.00pm: Welcome
2.10pm: Updated Strategy
2.25pm – 3.30pm: Forum on CPR
3.30pm: Annual General Meeting
• Welcome.
• Apologies.
• Confirmation of Quorum.
• Confirmation of the Minutes of the 25th AGM held 02 December 2019.
• Presentation and adoption of Chairperson’s Report.
• Presentation and adoption of Annual Report 2020.
• Election of Officers.
• Appointment of Auditor.
• Appointment of Legal Advisor.
• General Business pertinent to the Annual General Meeting.
Each full member (in accordance with Clause 2.1(c)) shall be entitled to designate an
individual chosen by that member to represent them and vote on
their behalf at the Annual General Meeting.
3.45pm: Closing and Refreshments

RSVP to [email protected]

DPA Covid-19 Programme Table

DPA Covid-19 Programme Table

We are keeping drowning prevention education alive!

At Alert Level 2.5, the majority of our programmes are able to be delivered in some capacity. This table hopefully shows what we are able to deliver at the different Covid-19 levels. We will keep up communication either through our website and or through our social media pages.

We’ve worked hard to set up our programmes and be as agile as possible during this pandemic. We are doing everything possible and necessary to follow the health and safety guidelines from the Ministry of Health NZ. We ask that you help us by also following these guidelines.

Thanks for your continued support,

Take care,
The team at DPA.

Drowning Prevention Auckland is the official ambassador for Aakron Xpress boats, outboards and trailers

Drowning Prevention Auckland is the official ambassador for Aakron Xpress boats, outboards and trailers

Drowning Prevention Auckland (DPA), the lead agency for water safety coordination and education in the Auckland region, is proud to announce the sponsorship agreement it has with Aakron Xpress.

Aakron Xpress is New Zealand’s premium dealer of Highfield Boats New Zealand; the world’s largest manufacturer of aluminium-hull rigid inflatable boats (RIBS).

This formal sponsorship agreement demonstrates the shared goals of water safety that exist between our organisations. Boat safety in, on and around the water is paramount for drowning prevention in Auckland and is such a priority for Aakron Express, that for every boat sold, they make sure the new owner has the necessary lifejackets to stay safe when using the Highfield boat they have purchased.

Aakron Xpress have sponsored Drowning Prevention Auckland the Highfield Club 420 boat, Suzuki engine and a trailer. The Club 420 boat is perfect for Drowning Prevention Auckland’s open water programmes especially its Kai Moana Gathering and Coastal Awareness programmes. The Club 420 offers the strength and durability of an aluminium hull and the spacious practicality that is required. The Club 420 boat is also a tough, reliable and safe boat which gives our team of aquatic educators the tools to be able to educate about drowning prevention appropriately.

A big thank you from the team at Drowning Prevention Auckland. We know that this partnership will enable us to effectively work towards our overall goal of reducing the drowning toll in the Auckland region.

Visit their website: https://www.aakronxpress.co.nz

For further questions, please contact: [email protected]


2019 AGM & Māori Water Safety Mātāpono

2019 AGM & Māori Water Safety Mātāpono

We had a great AGM & Māori Water Safety Mātāpono.

Congratulations to our Water Safety Champion award winners:

Individual Water Safety Champion Award: Danielle Turner & Maree Lloyd

Community Water Safety Champion Award: John Walker Find Your Field of Dreams

Long Service Water Safety Champion Award:  Nick Tompkins

Also a Life Membership Award to Jan Taylor.

WaterSafe Auckland Inc AGM & Matapono

WaterSafe Auckland Inc AGM & Matapono

Please join us for the 25th Annual General Meeting of WaterSafe Auckland Inc., also including a focus on our Māori Water Safety Matapono and our annual Water Safety Champion Awards

When: 1:30pm – 3.00pm, Monday 2nd December 2019.
Where: 85 Westhaven Drive, Westhaven, Auckland.

1.35pm – 2.30pm: Māori Water Safety Matapono

2.30pm – 2.45pm: Annual General Meeting
• Welcome.
• Apologies.
• Confirmation of Quorum.
• Confirmation of the Minutes of the 24th AGM held 12 November 2018.
• Presentation and adoption of Chairperson’s Report.
• Presentation and adoption of Annual Report 2019.
• Election of Officers.
• Appointment of Auditor.
• Appointment of Legal Advisor.
• General Business pertinent to the Annual General Meeting.
Each full member (in accordance with Clause 2.1(c)) shall be entitled to designate an individual chosen by that member to represent them and vote on their behalf at the Annual General Meeting.

2.45pm – 3.00pm: Water Safety Champion Awards

3.00pm: Closing and Refreshments

RSVP 22 November 2019 to Samantha Gunther at samantha@dpanz.org.nz 

In accordance with Clause 2.1(c) of the Rules, each full member shall be entitled to designate an individual chosen by that member to represent them and vote on their behalf at the Annual General Meeting. Proxy voting forms are available upon request, email samantha@dpanz.org.nz or phone 09 376 5114.

Drowning Prevention Auckland is the winner of the NZ Recreation Aotearoa Innovation Award

Drowning Prevention Auckland is the winner of the NZ Recreation Aotearoa Innovation Award

Last night, Drowning Prevention Auckland won the Aquatic Innovation Award for its eLearning platform which is a world first.

The prestigious award was given at the 2019 New Zealand Recreation Aotearoa Aquatic Awards, held in Queenstown.  The annual awards recognise outstanding achievements in the aquatics sector nationwide.

DPA Acting General Manager Sandie Gusscott says it is an honour to receive the award for a platform that takes users through a number of scenarios around water safety competence.

Ms Gusscott says although the modular eLearning platform was initially developed for DPA the organisation wants to collaborate with the whole aquatic sector to make water safety education accessible for all New Zealander’s.”

She says the development has been a team effort built on team expertise in conjunction  with Queenstown based media company 360NZ.

“The aim of our eLearning platform is to increase the understanding and knowledge of water safety, as well as assist in the development of practical skills, within the community, workplace and school settings.

“Participants can acquaint themselves with competencies before practising in a pool or open water and learners can complete a variety of tasks within each module,” she says.

The tasks have student activities, teaching points and videos that take the viewer through skills step by step. Developmentally appropriate teaching resources also sit alongside the platform to assist in the learning.

Ms Gusscott says it’s important to recognise support from Te Mangai Paho, Lion Foundation and Grassroots Trust because without them the platform would still be an idea.

Drowning Prevention Auckland are excited to get this amazing initiative started and look forward to working with Water Safety New Zealand and other organisations in the aquatic sector to share a collaborative approach to drowning prevention in New Zealand.

The eLearning platform can be found at: https://www.dpanz.org.nz/e-learning/

For further questions, please contact: [email protected]