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Water Safety Champions Receive National Recognition

Water Safety Champions Receive National Recognition

The country’s champions of water safety have just been announced at the 2012 Sealord New Zealand Water Safety Awards in Wellington today.

Longstanding swim school instructor and Wairoa Swim Club Captain Denice Gasson (Sport Hawke’s Bay) received the individual award for ‘Outstanding Contribution’ for her more than 25 years work teaching and developing water safety skills among generations of Wairoa locals.

This year’s group award for raising ‘Awareness’ went to non-profit kaupapa Māori Hastings-based organisation, the Te Taitimu Trust, for its five-day wānanga (camp) programme engaging some 100-150 7-16-year-olds from the Ngāti Kahungunu region in water safety. During the camp, the young people participate in activities such as waka ama, swimming, surf lifesaving, river crossing, beach safety and skits about water safety. Water Safety New Zealand is now working with partners in the South Island to implement a similar regional wānanga for Maori youth in Otago.

Surf Lifesaving New Zealand took out the ‘Education’ award for its successful BeachEd Programme, which has been delivered to more than one million primary and intermediate Kiwi school kids since 1990. Supported by Water Safety New Zealand, BeachEd is a theoretical and experiential based programme where students learn about surf and beach safety and then put the learning into practice in a managed environment.

Coastguard Dunedin won this year’s ‘Prevention’ category for its Life Ring Installation at Cape Saunders after several major safety incidents at the popular rock fishing location on the Otago Peninsula. In July, the life ring proved its worth when two fishermen, swept off the rocks, clung to the ring for more than an hour until rescue teams arrived. Following the incident, local residents, grateful to Coastguard Dunedin’s lifesaving project, raised further money for replacement rings.

“This year’s winners are true champions of water safety,” says Water Safety New Zealand Chief Executive Matt Claridge.

“The awards are a great opportunity to acknowledge those organisations and individuals who excel in their commitment to water safety. We’re very proud of our winners, who have made an enormous contribution to making Kiwis safer in the water this year.”

Sealord spokesperson Stu Yorston says its support of the awards is a logical continuation of its Sealord Swim for Life partnership which has already helped 130,000 kids get involved in learning to swim to survive.

“Sealord has been involved in water safety education for the last three years and we’re delighted to celebrate the community heroes and groups helping New Zealanders keep safe in the water.”

This year’s judging panel – made up of Sally Webb (Chair of the Water Safety New Zealand Board), Neil Murray (Manager of Coastguard Boating Education) and Matt Claridge – selected this year’s winners from a record number of nominations.



Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is the national organisation responsible for water safety education.

Formed in 1949, WSNZ’s overarching goal is to prevent drownings by educating communities about water safety.

A priority for WSNZ is to address a steady decline in the swimming ability of New Zealand’s youth. The Sealord Swim For Life initiative, a key WSNZ programme, is a national project established to:

• Provide all children with access to the water;
• Facilitate the delivery of quality swim and survive programmes in primary schools;
• Foster a culture that produces generations of New Zealand families that are water safe.

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