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Water safety is a critical issue for New Zealand. Drowning is the leading cause of recreational death and the third highest cause of accidental death.

In 2019 there were 82 preventable drowning fatalities following the 66 in 2018. The 2014 – 2018 five year average is 79.

Through its funding round Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is looking to fund projects that deliver drowning prevention interventions that make a difference to New Zealand’s drowning toll.

“We need a sustainable group of dedicated and capable organisations ready and able to address water safety risks and keep New Zealanders safe” says CEO Jonty Mills.

“This is particularly important during the period of economic uncertainty created by the global Covid-19 pandemic. Recreation, sport and general physical activity looks likely to play a major part of the recovery in New Zealand” says Mills.

The funding priorities for 2020/21 are:

  • The ongoing implementation of Water Skills for Life (WSFL) for 5 to 13 year olds
  • Maori Drowning Prevention
  • Regional Water Safety Strategies in Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty
  • High-risk Activities and Target Groups

CEO Jonty Mills says the WSNZ Funding Round is focused on where it can make the best drowning prevention gains.

“WSNZ has undertaken an analysis of past 10 years drowning fatality data. This identified a series of activities that accounted for just under two-thirds of the preventable fatal drownings, and identified those groups most likely to participate in these activities” says Mills.

These high-risk activities and target groups along with WSNZ’s strategic funding priorities is where WSNZ investment funding will be focused.

For more detail on the funding priorities you can download the Funding Round prospectus from the WSNZ website here where you will also find the application form and FAQs.

The 2020/21 funding round was open to applications at 3pm Friday 24 April and closes at 11.59 pm Monday 25 May.

For media enquiries or to set up an interview please call Ben Christie on 021770285 or email


2020/2021 Funding Round Open

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