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Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is looking to invest in partnerships that deliver drowning prevention interventions to help bring down New Zealand’s high drowning toll.

There were 81 fatal preventable drownings last year - 81 needless deaths leaving families and communities devastated.

WSNZ CEO Jonty Mills says water safety continues to be a critical issue for New Zealand society.

“Drowning is the fourth highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand. Drowning related hospitalisations have been increasing year on year for over a decade. Over the past ten years the cost of drowning deaths and injuries to New Zealand is in the order of $4.79 billion.”

“In addition, the personal and social costs to New Zealanders from drowning deaths and injuries are incalculable” says Mills.

More than ever before New Zealand faces a changing water safety landscape. Increasingly diverse demographics and greater participation rates point towards drowning prevention becoming more complex.

Jonty Mills says the water safety sector is under stress as it tries to meet these changing demands.

“This is reflected in the preventable drowning statistics. The downward trend of preventable drownings has plateaued since 2006,” says Mills.

The major focus of investment for WSNZ this year is its Water Skills for Life initiative – giving 5 to 13 year olds the necessary skills, techniques and knowledge to stay safe in, on and around the water. 

WSNZ has looked to the best international research to find the most effective way to tackle our drowning problem.

The research revealed one of the most powerful tools is teaching children water survival skills.

In 2016/17 $1,535,000 was distributed to 24 organisations during a process that is significantly over-subscribed. As a result, WSNZ will be placing strong emphasis on alignment to its funding priorities and high risk areas in the assessment of applications.

“We look forward to supporting strong drowning prevention partnerships that reduce our drowning toll and keep New Zealander’s safe in, on and around our waterways.”


Cross Sector Reference Group

New Zealand Safer Boating Forum

Coastguard Boating Education delivers the Safe Boating programme designed to provide practical, boating and water safety experiences for children. For information or to make a booking enquire now with Lisa Campkin at 

Surf Life Saving New Zealand delivers surf safety education to students through Beach Education and Surf To School. For information or to make a booking enquire now with Natalie Hoare at 



Water Safety New Zealand’s 2017/18 Drowning Prevention Investment Programme is now open


Call Sheridan and she'll help you get involved

Sheridan works with our partners and supporters assisting them to make commitments which are aligned with their passion for water safety and personal and/or company values. From volunteering your time, making a cash donation or providing inkind support towards a programme or campaign, Sheridan can find the right fit for your contribution. 

For a confidential conversation, call Sheridan on 021 1928 708 or email

Together, we’re building the capacity of Kiwis, new New Zealanders and visitors to New Zealand to have safe experiences in, on or around the waterways of Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Together, we’re helping people be active, have fun and share the joys and experiences of their water adventures with families and friends. Be it swimming or scuba diving, floating or fishing, water safety is a fundamental foundation to a flourishing New Zealand society.

All financial support is channelled into the communities of most need and where the fit between programmes and organisations or individuals is best aligned.



Funds will be used to support Water Skills For Life aquatic education at your local school or pool for children in years 1 to 8.

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