In May 2018 a hui was organised by Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) that bought together key Māori Water Safety stakeholders from across New Zealand. Attendees at the hui represented a wide range of stakeholder organisations and collectives and had expertise in water safety and drowning prevention for Māori across a range of activities. The focus of the hui was on how to refresh WSNZ’s Māori water safety strategy that aims to improve Māori drowning prevention outcomes. A significant portion of the hui was dedicated to workshops on key Māori water safety needs and agreeing priorities, recommendations and next steps for the strategy process.
One of the key recommendations of the hui was that WSNZ retain and build on the Kia Maanu, Kia Ora brand for its Māori water safety work. Many attendees were still using and promoting this brand and it was felt that this brand still had good recognition amongst Māori. Attendees were keen to work collectively to ensure this brand was promoted at key Māori events such as the Waka Ama nationals and Te Matatini (the national kapa haka competition). WSNZ fully supports this recommendation and has recently refreshed the Kia Maanu, Kia Ora brand and has committed to promoting it at upcoming key Māori events.
The hui also expressed a strong interest in the Water Skills for Life initiative (WSFL) and were keen to support this programme both in terms of promoting in their communities and in providing advice and support to develop a kaupapa Māori approach to Water Skills for Life. WSNZ has already translated the WSFL programme material for teachers into te reo Māori and is looking at other ways to build a kaupapa Māori approach into the initiative.
Hui attendees noted that many of them had 'been here before' at previous hui organised by WSNZ and felt like they were providing the same advice but to a different audience. Moreover, there were concerns that WSNZ’s lack of capability in providing kaupapa Māori advice could impact on the success of WSNZ’s Māori water safety strategy going forward.
It was proposed that WSNZ establish a Māori Advisory Group that could provide support and advice to WSNZ and the wider sector on te ao Māori. It was suggested that hui attendees could form an interim Advisory Group whose role was to work in partnership with WSNZ to:
- explore options for the role and structure of the Māori advice to WSNZ and the wider sector;
- develop draft terms of reference for the Māori Advisory Group;
- examine potential membership of the ensure the advisory group is representative of Māori water safety needs;
- provide initial advice to WSNZ on the Māori Water Safety Strategy refresh; and
- agree and deliver a 12 month work plan that promotes Kia Maanu, Kia Ora, develops better relationships between WSNZ and iwi/Māori, and improves the joint understanding of what works for Māori regarding water safety.
To give it effect to this proposal WSNZ agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the interim Māori Advisory Group in August 2018. This MOU outlines the ways in which the two parties will work with each other and the mutually desired objectives. The Memorandum of Understanding is for a 12 month trial period and over this time it is planned to jointly establish an appropriate and sustainable advisory model for Māori Water Safety.
WSNZ recognises that it needs to develop stronger working relationships with iwi and Māori organisations, and have a good understanding of the nature of Māori water safety issues. The interim Māori Advisory Group is an initiative that will help WSNZ to develop these relationships and a better knowledge of what programmes and initiatives can be pursued to reduce the Māori drowning toll and ensure Māori have a strong and positive connection with Tangaroa.