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Research by Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) has revealed over a third of Kiwis have experienced a serious situation in the water, and continue to underestimate the danger posed by our waterways.

In WSNZ’s third annual Attitudes and Behaviour survey drowning is recognised as a problem by 84% of respondents and is fifth behind child abuse, domestic violence, road safety and bullying.

The reality is drowning is the leading cause of recreational death, the second highest cause of unintentional injury death for 1 – 24 year olds* and the third highest cause of accidental death.

Respondents cited the main factors for getting into trouble as underestimating the conditions (40%) and lack of knowledge about the environment (30%). WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says this reflects what’s happening in terms of preventable drownings, injuries and risky behaviour.

“One in three people experienced a serious situation in the water with underestimating the conditions and poor knowledge of the environment the top reasons why people get into trouble. This is something we see happening time and time again when it comes to fatal preventable drowning incidents” says Mills.

“This is why we want to see Water Skills for Life aquatic education taught in every primary school. It is crucial everyone is taught to understand and assess risk when it comes to water and how to stay safe” says Mills.

In 2017 88 people died in preventable drowning incidents, up from 78 in 2016 and there have been 40 preventable fatalities so far in 2018. New Zealand’s drowning rate per capita is very high compared to other developed countries.

“The drowning toll shows the work that needs to be done to change the attitudes and behaviour of New Zealanders when it comes to water safety. Too many people continue to die needlessly in our waters” says Mills.

 For media enquiries call Ben Christie on 021 770285

 *Child and Youth Mortality report Committee: 13th data report 2012-16

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



Kiwis Continue to Underestimate Water Risks

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