'Kia Maanu, Kia Ora - Stay Afloat, Stay Alive': A water safety strategy for Maori in Aotearoa

Title'Kia Maanu, Kia Ora - Stay Afloat, Stay Alive': A water safety strategy for Maori in Aotearoa
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other NumbersPO-12

Aotearoa (New Zealand) has some of the most extensive and beautiful waterways in the world. The seas, rivers, beaches, and lakes provide endless opportunities to enjoy water activities such as gathering kai, swimming, hoe waka, diving, and fishing to name a few. For Maori, water is one of the greatest taonga (treasures) of this land - both physically and spiritually. However, while the number of people drowning in Aotearoa is decreasing overall, the number of Maori drowning is increasing.

Consider the following facts:

  • Maori make up 12% of the total population, but represent 25% of total drownings
  • 84% of Maori who drown are male aged between 25 and 64 years
  • Gathering sea food is one of the biggest causes of drowning amongst Maori
  • Maori children represent 44% of all the under five drownings

Whilst it might seem Maori are not giving water the respect it deserves, it is imperative to have Maori input into water safety content and design. ‘Kia Maanu, Kia Ora – Stay Afloat, Stay Alive’ is a water safety strategy that aims to integrate Maori cultural values through education to reduce the risk of water related injuries and drowning. The strategy recognises the importance of developing initiatives in the community through partnerships with water safety sector organisations, iwi, local government, schools and community groups. Since the strategy began Maori drowning has reduced from 28 in 2003 to 19 in 2006 – a reduction of 30%. This presentation will identify how Maori perspectives can assist in the development of a water safety strategy that embraces Maori values and can be integrated throughout the wider community.

Learning Outcomes
  • An increase in water safety awareness for Māori including the promotion of key messages at national, regional and community levels.
  • Enhancing water safety knowledge and skills through education and resources that reinforce cultural relationships and safer practice in and around water.
  • Developing partnerships with key organisations, iwi and community groups that support water safety education and drowning prevention.