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100 Maori youth will paddle down the Mohaka river on Wednesday 24 January as part of a programme to improve water safety and create the next generation of leaders.

Keeping safe in the water is one of the life skills being taught at Te Taitimu Trust’s annual five-day Summer Camp in partnership with Ngati Pahauwera Development Trust and with support from Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ).

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

“Maori make up almost a quarter of all preventable* drownings whilst representing just 14% of the population. We are working to bring that number down and this camp does a great job of teaching essential water safety skills.”

“This wananga is supporting tamariki, rangatahi and whanau” says founder of the Te Taitimu Trust Zack Makoare.

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

They are taught water safety and survival skills including how to collect kaimoana safely, how to wear a life jacket and get to experience a white-water rafting trip on the Mohaka river. The programme has had impressive results and some who participated several years ago are returning now to mentor others.

The Te Taitimu Trust is a Whanau Ora initiative founded by Zack Makoare who lost his son Kelly to suicide in 2000. He says it took seven years to overcome the grief and establishing the trust was part of that process.  The original intent of the trust’s work was suicide prevention but they have now branched out to include life skills.

“Our kaupapa on the 11th 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 water activitie” says Zack Makoare


Jonty Mills – CEO

Jonty joined Water Safety New Zealand in 2016. Previously he had spent more than 20 years in communications and external affairs leadership, operations and business development roles. He brings expertise in stakeholder management to CEO and ministerial level, with a blend of private and public sector experience.   A long-standing member of BP's Senior Leadership team and media spokesperson Jonty has a background of leadership roles in marketing, operations and business development across commercial and retail business channels.  During his time at BP, he was responsible for managing the company’s community partnerships – including Surf Life Saving New Zealand, Young Enterprise Trust and Royal Society of New Zealand – and has experience in advocacy as the interface between BP and central and local Government. He also helped embed safety as the number one priority and value across the organisation and is a strong advocate for Water Safety New Zealand’s core values and strategic direction.   027 478 1836 

Partnership to improve water safety skills of Maori youth in Hawkes Bay

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