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Applications to this year’s Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) annual funding rounds open on Monday, 16 May 2022.

WSNZ’s Chief Executive, Daniel Gerrard, said: “We are inviting applications to deliver water safety and drowning prevention interventions that make a real difference to New Zealander’s lives.”

Wai Ora Aotearoa 2025, the New Zealand Water Safety Strategy, shone a sobering spotlight on Aotearoa’s drowning statistics. Despite the best efforts of all involved in the New Zealand water safety sector, progress has stalled. As a result, close to 80 New Zealanders continue to drown each year. The picture is more dire for Māori; whose drowning rate is getting worse. Māori are now more than twice as likely to drown than others in Aotearoa New Zealand. This isn’t good enough as we can clearly see that business as usual, even if improved, isn’t delivering the result needed. So, with the support of funders and partners, we are trying something different this year and we are committed to a wider review of our funding mechanisms.

In addition to the existing Water Safety New Zealand Drowning Prevention Fund, a new fund has been created, the Kia Maanu Kia Ora Drowning Prevention fund. This new fund focuses on the urgent challenge to turn the increasing rate of Māori drowning around by investing more in te ao Māori inspired solutions. This dedicated resource will stimulate interest from a wider range of partners drawing more knowledge, ideas, networks, capabilities and resources together to develop innovative solutions to reduce Māori and Pasifika drownings.

Whilst the case for making this change is clear, the resources had to come from somewhere. So, we’ve made the difficult decision to reduce the amount available via the Water Safety New Zealand Drowning Prevention Fund. This means that we won’t be able to fund initiatives under this fund to the extent that we have been able to in recent years. We understand the real impact that this will have on organisations that have relied on this funding but are confident that this change is necessary.

We are also committed to a wider review of all funds that Water Safety New Zealand has responsibility for. This will occur later this year and will ensure that we have a ‘fit for purpose’ funding system that is aligned with the Wai Ora Aotearoa 2025 strategy.

To help address the drowning toll, WSNZ is seeking to invest in organisations and projects that demonstrate a strong prevention rationale with a clear and measurable impact and the organisational capability to deliver best-practice in water safety initiatives.

Wai Ora Aotearoa 2025: Navigating to a Safer Future commits WSNZ and sector partners to work collectively towards common goals with greater impact and efficiency to bring down Aotearoa New Zealand’s high drowning numbers.

Six priority areas from Wai Ora Aotearoa 2025 are the focus for this year’s funding. These priorities are:

  1. Under-Fives – an age group that continues to be vulnerable to drowning fatalities and injuries
  2. Water Skills for Life – education funding for 5 to 13-year-old children learning water survival competency
  3. Māori water safety education – Kia Maanu, Kia Ora focuses on improving water safety outcomes, especially for Māori
  4. Reducing male drowning and improving decision making in the 15-34 age range – males in this age group have a heightened drowning risk
  5. Programmes and tools that aid people’s awareness of the difference between their perceived and actual competencies – analysis of drowning fatality data has revealed that many drowning victims overestimate their ability in the water and underestimate the conditions when undertaking high-risk activities such as free diving, snorkelling and scuba diving
  6. Interventions targeting overrepresented groups, activities and environments - applications are sought from organisations providing programmes that deliver strong water safety outcomes for High-Risk Communities, Activities and Environments.

Daniel Gerrard said, “We would like to encourage applications that focus on communities with a disproportionate risk of poor water safety outcomes and lower participation in water safety training, including  Māori, Pacific peoples, Asians, new immigrants and hard to reach or remote communities.

“High-risk activities include scuba and free diving, snorkelling and rock fishing. We also need to invest in programmes that address environments that pose particular drowning hazards such as high-risk rivers, dangerous swimming holes and beaches, and high drowning incident fishing areas.”

Funding applications need to align with these priorities and provide evidence of clear benefits, effective delivery, scalability and partnerships to deliver water safety outcomes in the community.

More detail is available in the Funding Round prospectus on the ‘Get Funded’ page on the WSNZ website.

Water Safety New Zealand acknowledges the generous support of the New Zealand Lotteries Grants Board.  Their support underpins the Kia Ora Kia Maanu Drowning Prevention Fund and the Water Safety New Zealand Drowning Prevention Fund.

The 2022-2023 Funding Rounds will close at 3.00 pm on Wednesday, 15 June 2022.



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Water Safety New Zealand’s drowning prevention funding rounds open on 16 May 2022

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