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Ed Sheeran

Common sense can prevent many water deaths

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A Māori water safety campaigner says common sense and preparation can keep a lot of whānau safer around water.

Zack Makoare from Te Taitimu Trust, which runs a range of programmes in the Hawke's Bay, says most drowning fatalities are preventable.

That can mean anything from making sure kids get swimming lessons to not putting them in dangerous situations.

"One of the biggest things is just using our common sense, especially for whānau that go to the beach, take a kai, and we've got a few mokopuna on the beach, and then we have a few beers. It's just having a plan around that, and how that all looks. Even a plan of looking at the paper, looking at your cellphone, see what the tides are doing, see what the weather is doing in the next 24 hours," Mr Makoare says.

Zack Makoare was a featured speaker at a hui in Manukau today bringing together participants in Water Safety New Zealand and the Accident Compensation Corporation's new $1 million Kia Maanu Kia Ora Maori water safety programme.

Water Safety chief executive Jonty Mills says a new approach was needed to tackle the over-representation of Māori in drowning statistics, which means culturally appropriate interventions created and delivered by Māori.

Māori account for over 20 percent of all preventable and non-preventable drowning fatalities, despite comprising only 15 percent of the nation’s population.

Te Taitimu Trust programmes include Ngā Mokopuna, a 10-day water safety road trip to the South Island next January 2020 for 125 rangatahi, and Our Way of Life, a pilot water skills programme for parents of tamariki attending kohanga reo in Flaxmere.

Other funded initiatives include Māori surf lifesaving clubs, waka ama, dive safety and wananga on safe practices when collecting kaimoana.

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