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The recent Water Safety Sector Capability Review noted the potential for local government’s role in water safety sector to change in response to climate change and changes in New Zealand’s population age structure, ethnicity and location. As a result, the water safety sector’s relationship with local government was something that needs development.

WSNZ, on behalf of the wider water safety sector, is currently seeking to build relationships with key local government organisations in New Zealand. In the first instance with a focus on working with Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), the organisation that represents and advocates for local government in New Zealand.

LGNZ has agreed that WSNZ can speak to several of its regular meetings of elected local representatives about drowning prevention and water safety. In June WSNZ presented to the Rural and Provincial meeting and in late August to the LGNZ Zone 1 meeting (covering Auckland and Northland).

At both these meetings WSNZ provided an overview of the role of the organisation and the objectives of the Water Safety Sector Strategy 2020. In this regard, the goal contained in the sector strategy that ‘New Zealand communities take the lead to promote the safe enjoyment of local water’ was emphasised. In addition, the objectives of the three pilot regional water safety strategies that WSNZ is facilitating the development of were also highlighted. These being: greater regional ownership of drowning prevention; improved coordination of effort and capability; and increased funding and activity.

Feedback was positive at both meetings and there was interest in a range of water safety issues affecting local communities like the closure of school pools, river safety, and the fencing of home pools legislation. One of the key points of interest for WSNZ was on how it can more effectively engage with local government in New Zealand. WSNZ indicated that it was interested in developing a sustainable approach to engaging with local government on water safety issues.

WSNZ Chief Executive, Jonty Mills said the relationship with local government is something we need get right as a sector.  Jonty acknowledges there are already a range of existing relationships between local governments and sector organisations, but we need to make sure we are talking to the right people and getting greater awareness of the key water safety issues impacting locally and their potential solutions.
WSNZ is booked in to speak to other LGNZ meetings in the coming months and is making sure local government is aware of the process for developing regional water safety strategies in their jurisdictions.


Neil McInnes – Capability and Investment Manager

Neil McInnesNeil joined WSNZ in August 2016 after a 20 year career in the Public Service in Wellington. Initially focusing on policy roles, Neil has in recent years been involved in organisational strategy, performance and planning in a number of agencies. Growing up in coastal Kapiti just north of Wellington, Neil was a keen beach swimmer and dabbled in surfing and diving in his teens. He now focuses on ensuring his 2 children develop water skills and safely enjoy the beaches of New Zealand. A craft beer enthusiast, Neil samples widely from the range of New Zealand beers that are now available.   029 770 7198


New Zealand has one of the highest fatal drowning rates in the OECD. In 2017 there were 92 preventable deaths, all entirely preventable. Each one leaves families and communities devastated.

Our drowning toll is something every New Zealander should see as a national disgrace and one we all have a responsibility to address.

How you can support water safety

Water safety effects all of us. Sadly there are too many incidents of people getting into trouble in the water. If you have a story you'd like to share, we'd like to hear about it. We are continually learning and your story may help others. 

The gift of your time to support water safety can be made in various ways. We work with our sector partners, Surf Life Saving New Zealand, Coastguard New Zealand, Swimming New Zealand and other water safety agencies. 

Your donation can help children learn vital water safety skills in your community. This can be delivered directly to your nominated school to help cover the cost of water safety lessons or help a school keep their school pool operating.

We can help you raise money for your school through our Aloe Up Sunscreen fundraiser. You raise funds to help cover the cost of water safety lessons or help keep your school pool operating, AND for every sunscreen sold, we also donate funds to your project.

Join our partners in creating social change around New Zealand's water safety culture. Help us make a difference when you support our programmes with cash and/or inkind support. Or have a water safety programme you'd like us to consider ring Sheridan on 04 801 9600.

This is one of the easiest methods of giving to water safety. Your employer will deduct your regular donation every pay day and you receive immediate tax credits that reduce your PAYE payable. You don't need to wait until the end of the year to claim your tax credit. 



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