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The second annual public attitudes and behaviour survey was conducted in April 2017.

Drowning is perceived as a problem in New Zealand by 83 percent of survey respondents and ranks fifth behind child abuse, domestic violence, road safety, and bullying at school and the workplace. The results revealed that while water safety messages may be getting through to some of the people some of the time, behaviour change is sadly lagging.

Beaches, private homes, coastlines, rocks and rivers are perceived as high risk areas, yet people’s behaviour in these environments is not changing.

People's beliefs about the dangers in, on or around water align with what’s happening in terms of preventable drownings, injuries and risky behaviour. Underestimating the conditions, a lack of knowledge of the environment, over-confidence and a lack of skills –  including not being able to swim – prevail as the top reasons why people get into trouble. However, it doesn’t seem to be deterring people from making risky decisions in, on or around water.

One in three people said that they had experienced a serious situation in the water, and that underestimating the conditions and having poor knowledge of the environment ranked highest as contributing factors. 

On the positive side, the wearing of lifejackets and the mandatory supervision of under-fives appears to be gaining traction. The percentage of people always wearing a lifejacket when canoeing, kayaking, rowing or stand-up paddle boarding has gone up from 26 percent to 47 percent. The number of people sailing in a large boat (more than six metres) who always wear a lifejacket has increased from 63 percent to 74 percent and those who never wear one has dropped from 21 percent to 7 percent.

The number of respondents who always keep preschool children within arm’s reach around water has increased from 69 percent to 71 percent.

Download the full Report here.

About Water Skills for Life

Water Skills For Life was developed for children in Years 1 - 8 to learn water safety. Based on 27 core skills, it establishes broad fundamental competencies for life-long water safety.

Children are taught Water Skills for Life at school, either by their school teacher in the school pool or community or by a swim teacher at a community pool. Schools can decide how they teach their students Water Skills For Life.


Click here for the directory to contact a Water Skills for Life instructor.
Click here for School Resources and Database User Guide



Attitudes and Behaviour of Kiwis (2017)

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