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New Zealand’s Inaugural Water Safety Awards

New Zealand’s Inaugural Water Safety Awards
December 21, 2009

Sport Northland won the Prevention category award, Taupo’s AC Baths won the Awareness category award and Rotorua’s Unison Lake Safety Programme took the Education category. The winners each receive a $5,000 contribution towards professional development.

An individual award was also presented to Alan Haddock, a long time member of the coastguard boating industry, for his outstanding contribution during 40 years of water safety work.

WSNZ General Manager Matt Claridge says the awards were introduced to recognise the excellent work being done by Kiwis dedicated to preventing injury and drowning stating the significance of two of the three category winners coming from inland cities. 

“This indicates the nominees’ understanding of the need for water safety education suited to the local environment.

“Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand. We’re an island nation so swimming and survival skills are essential for all of us. Whether we are parents of young children, divers, surfers, recreational boat users or just people who enjoy visiting the beach – we all need to know how what to do and what not to do around the water.

“Water Safety New Zealand has developed a framework to ensure the core fundamentals are being taught by water safety educators.

“These awards are part of recognising our top achievers and those who are role models for our industry. We have some talented people who work tirelessly to keep their communities safe and Water Safety New Zealand wants to thank them for their work.”

The inaugural New Zealand Water Safety Awards were presented as part of the international water safety conference ‘Charting the Future’. 

Hosted by Water Safety New Zealand, the conference attracted a broad range of delegates from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Japan. These industry leaders, from organisations such as Maritime New Zealand, Search and Rescue, New Zealand Police, Plunket, Surf Life Saving New Zealand and Coastguard, have been discussing and developing ideas to improve New Zealand’s water safety record.

Category Awards:
New Zealand Water Safety Award for Education 2009
Winner: Unison Lake Safety Programme, Rotorua Aquatic Centre

The programme, which has been running for five years, teaches school children survival skills in, on and around lakes. It is the first of its kind for inland areas. Rotorua District Council strongly supports the project and has included it in its Long Term Community Council Plan. The on-going financial support of commercial sponsor, Unison, has made the programme viable and sustainable. It is now being rolled out to other centres across the country.

The programme educates and physically challenges children aged between three and 13 years, offering indoor and outdoor lessons all year round. Water Safety New Zealand’s ‘River Safe’ activities are taught throughout the programme and, after practicing in the pool, children are able to test their safety skills in a lake or river environment.

New Zealand Water Safety Award for Awareness 2009
Winner: AC Baths, Taupo

Taupo’s AC Baths’ Swim for Life and Lake Taupo Water Safety programmes have dramatically improved the water safety awareness and skills of Taupo school children. The Swim for Life programme has been running for five years and has received more than 40,000 student attendances. The programme enables students aged between five and 18 years (including those with special needs) to receive 10 free (or subsidised) swimming lessons. Swim instructor training is provided free of charge to teacher aides, special needs caregivers and parents, to support the student’s learning. 

The Lake Taupo Water Safety Programme, which was introduced last year, has been well received by schools, with more than 2,600 students participating so far. It has a RiverSafe component and gives students an opportunity to develop skills using rafts, kayaks, snorkeling and surf boards. During school holidays, the programme is offered to the wider community.

New Zealand Water Safety Award for Prevention 2009
Winner: Sport Northland, Whangarei

Sport Northland’s Top Energy WaterSafe and Kaurilands water safety programmes have dramatically improved the water safety awareness and skills of Northland school children. Top Energy WaterSafe is a free programme available to year one – eight school children in the Far North. It includes training and professional development for teachers enabling them to teach their students on-going swimming and water safety skills. In February 2010 Top Energy WaterSafe will reach the significant milestone of having delivered its 100,000th student lesson. 

Sport Northland also manage the Kaurilands water safety programme, targeting year six – eight students in rural schools. It starts with a half day event which incorporates survival, surf and river skills and concludes with children attempting to achieve their 200 metre Swim for Life certificate. The programme continues with teacher training which allows them to provide ongoing water safety lessons. So far, more than 600 teachers have received this support.

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