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Draft Strategy 2025








The New Zealand Water Safety Sector Strategy’s main purpose is to “set the direction” for the sector, so that all can progress towards the ultimate vision “no one drowns”. This is despite there being a large number of separate entities involved in the sector, and the different sizes of those entities. The Strategy will provide a roadmap for where we are heading and will encourage collaboration between all those involved in drowning prevention and water safety in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Consultation and feedback is now being sought on the New Zealand Water Safety Sector Strategy 2021 – 2025 draft document. It provides a framework spanning five draft strategic areas, with a proposed action plan behind each.

On this website we have:

  • Highlighted the frequently asked questions regarding the development of the draft Strategy 2021-2025

  • Explained the proposed framework that will be used for the final document

  • Attached the draft strategic areas of focus and the proposed short/med term action plan for the 2021 – 2025 strategy

  • Provided an online form to easily submit your feedback into the proposed Strategy

  • Stated when your feedback is required by

We wish to gain feedback on the framing of the priority areas of focus, the proposed actions within the priority areas, and the draft structure of the document.

On the form a series of questions have been posed for you to consider. You may choose to only answer questions applicable to you or you may have other comments you wish to make.

We are interested in all feedback, so please respond with your comments by the closing date of the 4th September 2020.


Vision & Mission


As stated, the 2015 strategy mission and vision have been revalidated, however it was suggested that “more positive” wording should be considered for the vision, and the mission should be broadened to include all in the population, rather than using the word “New Zealanders.” 

 2020 Vision: No one drowns 

Proposed 2025 VisionWe envisage a future where no one drowns in Aotearoa, New Zealand 

 2020 Mission: To work collectively to reduce drowning and injuries so that all New Zealanders enjoy the water safely 

Proposed 2025 Mission: To work collectively to reduce drowning and water related injuries in Aotearoa, New Zealand, so all enjoy the water safely 

How broad should it be? Drowning prevention vs water safety 

The 2015 Strategy focused on drowning prevention. The CSRG felt that the strategy should have a broader mandate for this iteration. The definitions of drowning prevention and water safety were discussed, with the group agreeing that the broader focus of water safety should be the primary focus for this iteration. 

Drowning prevention: is the interventions and strategies delivered through programmes to national and local communities, focused on preventing drowning deaths and injuries.  

Water safety: is the procedures, precautions and policies associated with safety in, on and around bodies of water, where there is risk of injury or drowning. 

Review of the 2015 strategy by CSRG, and feedback as to how this iteration might change 

During the review process of the 2015 strategy, a number of areas were highlighted that the group felt needed expanding or in some cases more explicit wording used. 

Feedback was very clear once compiled. 

Five areas of strategic focus were highlighted by all; 

  • Education There is a water safety education framework in place for all ages and stages in Aotearoa, New Zealand 

  • Data, research and insights A trusted "knowledge hub" is developed that stores and provides data, research and insights, to drive evidenced based investment decisions for water safety and drowning prevention 

  • Communication, collaboration and partnerships - There is strong sector collaboration utilising members strengths and capacity, to co-operate and combine across the water safety sector, the community, regionally and nationally, to ensure best practice is enacted and efficiencies are adopted 

  • Leadership, advocacy and influence –Water safety strategies are actively promoted in the community, to policy makers, local, regional and government agencies, to increase awareness of water safety and drowning prevention 

  • Frontline search and rescue Prevent or reduce drowning and injuries through providing targeted supervision and surveillance, guidance and if necessary rescue of those at the point of being exposed to water hazards 

These are the areas that have been fed into the document as the sectors draft strategic pillars. 

Absolute numerical figures as drowning prevention targets were not considered appropriate, as these did not take into account population growth or participation rates in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It is more common to use per 100,000 of population measures and/or five year rolling averages. 

Drowning injuries, including hospitalisations and their “costs” to society needs to be further highlighted, so that there is more focus in this area. 

There was agreement that targeted interventions need to be put in place for over-represented groups and activities. Data analysis by WSNZ indicates that around two thirds of preventable fatal drownings are a result of in-water recreation, land based fishing, recreational boating, underwater diving, and oar and paddle crafts. The groups most likely to be involved in these activities are males aged 15-34, male 50+ recreational boaters, Māori, Pacific Peoples, Asians, under 5’s and underwater divers. 

The 2015 strategy did not highlight how the strategy was to be implemented. This iteration has an explicit short to medium term proposed action plan for the five year period the Strategy covers, alongside each of the strategic areas of focus. Funding and commitment has been given by Water Safety New Zealand to engage an implementation manager to drive the development and implementation of the actions in this strategy. A sector wide monitoring and evaluation framework will be developed to gauge progress, effectiveness and the efficiency of the water safety sector, in generating the expected outcomes.  




 Why do we need another water safety sector strategy?

The first collaborative Water Safety Sector Strategy launched in 2015 had an initial five-year term to the end of 2020. A collaborative water safety sector that shares information and resources will have the greatest impact in bringing our drowning toll down. Common goals and working together towards a revalidated vision will achieve this. Government is also very keen to see joined up agencies working together for greater efficiencies and impact.

Has the previous Sector Strategy been successful?

The strategy has been successful in terms of pulling the water safety sector together in a more joined up way. There has been success in relation to sharing of information, data, resources and joined up campaigns. The sector capability review was a successful outcome, which highlighted the pressures facing the sector, resulting in the successful budget bid to Government. However, the ambitious targets that were set in terms of raw numbers will not be met and there has been some limitations around implementation, monitoring and evaluation which will be addressed in the new strategy. The continued downward trend of drownings as an average per 100,000 of population is a positive.

What insights have we learned from the existing strategy?

Data, insights and the evidence base will be important going forward. Also, Water Safety in the broader sense (in conjunction with Drowning Prevention) will be a focus. It will also be important to create realistic and tangible goals that can be measured and reported on. An implementation plan will be developed which will recognise that different agencies bring unique contributions to the strategy and will contribute to specific parts where they can add value as opposed to necessarily being involved in all facets. 

What are the objectives of the Strategy refresh?

To reconfirm and revalidate the mandate that WSNZ and others in the Cross-Sector Reference Group (CSRG) are working towards, the vision of the sector, “no one drowns”.

Development of the sector strategy, which in turn will support sector alignment, allowing sector organisations to formulate their strategic plans; to develop aspirational goals, determine measurable outcomes, and highlight how the sector funding will best be directed to achieve the agreed goals.

Who is driving its development?

Water Safety New Zealand is leading the development of the next iteration of the Water Safety Sector Strategy 2021 - 2025 in collaboration with the Cross Sector Reference Group (CSRG). Representative agencies are listed:

Water Safety New Zealand

Coastguard Boating Education

Coastguard New Zealand

Drowning Prevention Auckland

Maritime New Zealand

Mountain Safety Council

New Zealand Search and Rescue

Recreation Aotearoa

Surf Life Saving New Zealand

Swimming New Zealand

Who else is involved?

The Water Safety Sector Strategy refresh will be undertaken utilising the expertise and resources of WSNZ and its Board, the participants in the Cross-Sector Reference Group, and other key sector stakeholders such as the members of the Safer Boating Forum. It requires a co-ordinated, collective effort from WSNZ and sector stakeholders. If coordinated well, the process will ensure maximum buy-in to the development of the Sector Strategy 2021- 2025 and encourage stakeholders to work towards the common goals.

What has been the development process to date?

Water Safety New Zealand developed a project plan which was approved by the WSNZ Board early this year. WSNZ recruited a project manager to drive the process, facilitate inputs and monitor project milestones. To this point, the strategy has been developed by all members of the Cross Sector Reference Group (CSRG). 

What has been done to date and what is left to do?

Firstly, it was important to look back at the previous strategy, as well as analyse data and insights to help set the future goals, targets and areas of need. Since the project launched, The CSRG has undertaken three workshops;

Workshop 1 (April) – a sense check of the previous strategy and revalidation of the vision and mission. These were unanimously agreed to still be valid

Workshop 2 (May) – based on the data and evidence, future goals and targets were discussed and gaps identified to help frame up the future strategic areas of focus

Workshop 3 (July) – Strategy framework developed, strategic areas of focus and proposed action plan drafted. Wider consultation process to be agreed.

The flowchart below shows the process, where we currently are, and what is left to complete.

What has been the consultation process to date?

The participating agencies listed above have been fully consulted and WSNZ’s monitoring agencies, Sport NZ and ACC have been kept informed. It was important to first establish a project plan and timeline, look back on the previous strategy and gather supporting data and evidence. WSNZ and the CSRG have worked together to plan a wider consultation process from this point.

What is the sector consultation process and timing?

During WSNZ’s Summit late last year, there was strong feedback from attendees on the desire for members and interested parties to contribute. The draft framework and strategic areas of focus will be released early August for wider consultation. The consultation document will be socialised with the invitees to the Drowning Prevention Summit 2019, interested local, regional and national agencies and other multi-sectorial groups interested in drowning prevention and water safety outcomes. Māori stakeholders will also be specifically targeted with information about the strategy. This will give all parties the opportunity to feedback into the process. Feedback is to be provided directly back to WSNZ.

Has COVID-19 impacted progress and will the strategy be delayed as a result?

Yes. COVID-19 slowed progress as agencies dealt with other priorities. Face to face CSRG meetings weren’t able to be conducted for the first two workshops. However, all agencies committed to keep momentum going and Zoom meetings were held to continue its development. The original timeline was for a launch in October 2020. The impact of COVID-19 may see this pushed out to December 2020. WSNZ and the CSRG are very keen to ensure interested parties are properly consulted and have the opportunity to provide input.

What will be different this time?

Much of the previous strategy’s intent remains valid. However, going forward we will ensure there are realistic goals and targets where there is demonstrated need, appropriate outputs are identified, resources are allocated and an implementation plan is developed. We are also considering learnings from an environmental scan in terms of the impacts of what the future may hold (e.g. population growth, demographics, volunteering, and impacts of COVID-19). Monitoring and evaluation, and a reporting framework will also be developed to inform progress and effectiveness.

Who will “own” the strategy?

The strategy is owned by the sector and its implementation will be driven by WSNZ, who will play a lead role in ensuring it goals are monitored and measured.

When will the strategy be launched and how?

The original timeline was for a launch in October 2020. The impact of COVID-19 may see this pushed out to December 2020. We are planning a launch in Wellington towards the end of 2020 where interested parties will be invited to attend.

Is the Government supportive of the Strategy?

The Government is keen to see agencies work together for greater efficiencies and impact. The Government was supportive of the previous strategy and relevant Government agencies will be consulted during this process. The strategy will be owned by the sector for the sector.




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