skip to main content


As leader of a sector that relies predominantly on a volunteer base to save lives, Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) during National Volunteer Week is acknowledging the great contribution they make to our society.

“By nature, Kiwis like to give of their time to help others. The water safety sector is certainly no exception,” says Chief Executive Jonty Mills. “Over half a million Kiwis volunteer in some way shape or form within our sector”.

Unfortunately, New Zealand also holds the unenviable position of having one of the highest preventable drowning tolls in the developed world.

“This is a sector that relies predominantly on a volunteer base. Without them, the drowning toll in this country would unquestionably be catastrophic” says Mills.

Most drowning deaths in New Zealand are preventable* and organisations such as Surf Life Saving NZ and Coastguard NZ, as well as many smaller ones rely on volunteers to keep people safe in our waters.

“First and foremost a preventable drowning is a tragedy for a family and a community” says Mills. 

Volunteering is a free public service. The social and economic cost of drowning deaths alone to New Zealand is estimated at over $400 million dollars per annum.

Jonty Mills says WSNZ stands beside all volunteers across all sectors. “Our country and our communities simply wouldn’t function without them”.

“We understand first-hand their value, the passion they bring and the massive contribution they make across New Zealand. That’s why we should unite and acknowledge all volunteers this week”.


*Preventable drowning fatalities are those where water safety sector intervention could have had an  influence (for example where the victim was boating, swimming, diving).


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. 



Water Safety New Zealand applauds Kiwi volunteers

+ Text Size -
Original generation time 1.6739 seconds. Cache Loaded in: 0.0476 seconds.