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Water Safety Sector Strategy 2020

The water safety sector is made up of organisations and individuals with a primary focus that Kiwis, new New Zealanders and visitors to Aotearoa, New Zealand, safely have good experiences in, on or around water. Together we are delivering programmes, services and initiatives to make positive social change in New Zealand.

Water Safety New Zealand's role is to provide leadership, advocacy, policy development and funding to the sector to create a thriving society for individuals, families and communities. 

Our guiding star is the Water Safety Sector 2020 strategy which has set our course since 2015 and continues to keep us focused on our mission. However there are many obstacles to overcome. The social and economic cost of drowning far outweighs funding to the water safety sector and we must continue to be innovative and efficient if we are to bring down this country’s high drowning toll.

The New Zealand Water Safety Sector Strategy 2020 sets bold targets for a reduction in drownings, particularly for male drownings and those aged under five, and all hospitalisations. 

Click to download the Strategy Document.

Progress towards 2020 Targets

Preventable Drowning Fatalities (2020 Target: Reduced to 50 or less)

Annual preventable drowning fatalities have been reducing since 2000. To reach the reduction target the rate at which the preventable drownings have been reducing (by about one person per year) needs to accelerate.

Hospitalisations. 2020 Target: Reduced to 100 or less

The drowning hospitalisation rate has been increasing by about 12 people a year since 2003. To reach the reduction target the rate of growth in hospitalisations has to be firstly slowed, and then reduced.

Male Fatalities. 2020 Target: Fatalities reduced to 33 or less

The number of preventable male drowning deaths has been reducing since 2000, but not at the same rate as overall preventable drownings. To reach the reduction target a step change in male behaviour around water is needed.


Preschool Fatalities. 2020 Target: Reduced to zero

Since 2000 a consistent reduction in preventable drowning fatalities of pre-school children has occurred. To reach the reduction target the progress needs to be maintained, as well as launching initiatives that target high risk groups.

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