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A renewed partnership between Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) and Māori is being celebrated at a special event on the Whanganui River.

WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills will join Māori water safety advocate and educator Rob Hewitt and Te Taitimu Trust founder Zack Makoare for a powhiri and water safety workshop.

130 Māori youth will also be given the experience of a lifetime with a paddle in a kayak down the scenic Whanganui River.

Safety is just one of the life skills being taught at Te Taitimu Trust’s annual five-day Summer Camp in partnership with Kimiora Trust and with support from Water Safety New Zealand.

WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says the trust does great work teaching water safety skills to Maori who are overrepresented in the drowning statistics.

“We are extremely pleased to have reignited and recharged our partnership with Maori through our work with Māori advisory group Tangaroa Ara Rau. We are working hard to refocus and relaunch Kia Maanu Kia Ora and create a more targeted and affective program to address Māori drowning statistics,” says WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills.

Te Taitimu Trust Zack Makoare says this wananga is supporting tamariki, rangatahi and whanau.

“We are grateful for the support of WSNZ and the Kimiora Trust and excited about the renewed partnership as we move into the future for Māori water safety.”

Survivor of three nights lost at sea, Māori water safety advocate and educator Rob Hewitt says it’s a privilege to be part of the camp which does a fantastic job of delivering water safety skills to Māori youth who are missing out.

“The cost of swimming lessons can be prohibitive, so this camp gives access to valuable water safety skills and knowledge.”

“In partnership with WSNZ we’ll see more Māori driven solutions to tackle the factors behind Māori drowning fatalities,” says Rob Hewitt.

The camps have run since 2007 with young Māori travelling from around the country to learn practical life skills from volunteers and experts.

The program has had impressive results and some who participated several years ago are returning now to mentor others and create the Māori leaders of the future.

The Te Taitimu Trust is a Whanau Ora initiative founded by Zack Makoare.

“Our kaupapa on the 12th year is “Making a Difference” for our rangatahi. Many of our hard to reach families don’t have the ability to spend much time in the rivers and moana as they used to 100 years ago. Learning these water safety skills are vital for our whanau to learn about safe practices around the water.”


Ben Christie, Senior Communications & Media Advisor at WSNZ on 021770285

Renewed partnership celebrated at camp teaching water safety skills to Māori youth

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