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Waka Accidents Reports Released

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-MARITIME-SAFETY-AUTHORI

WAKA ACCIDENTS REPORTS RELEASED

The development of written safety guidelines for the safe operation of waka, including the appropriate use of buoyancy aids, was the key recommendation to emerge from the Maritime Safety Authority's investigation of three waka accidents that occurred over the Christmas holiday period.

Reports on the three accidents - the first involving a fatality on Lake Rotorua on 3 January 2000 when a waka capsized, the second a swamping of a waka at the entrance to Wairoa Bay in the Bay of Islands on 31 December 1999, and the third a waka capsize outside Gisborne Harbour on 27 December 1999 - were released by the MSA today.

Commenting on the reports, the Director of Maritime Safety, Russell Kilvington, said that the MSA would be working with key members of the Maori community involved in operating the different types of waka to establish written voluntary codes of best practice.

"This may form a basis for specific national safety audits of the different types of operations such as waka ama in the future," said Mr Kilvington.

A hui held in Wellington on 4 July had identified the benefits of written safety guidelines, while noting that, overall, the safety record of waka is good relative to other water based activities.

"This is in large part due to the traditional waka safety culture which exists within the Maori community. The hui recognised that greater education of the public and media about waka is needed, both in terms of their cultural significance to Maori and the strong traditional safety protocols that govern their use," said Mr Kilvington.

For further information, please contact the Director of Maritime Safety, Russell Kilvington, on 04 473-0111.

Note:

* Copy of the press release issued following the 7 July hui is

attached.

* Copies of accident reports available on request (phone Joanne

Sweetman on 04 494 1253).

NEWS RELEASE Date: Wednesday 5 July 2000

Waka Safety Hui

Developing a better public understanding of the role of waka in Maori culture and the comprehensive traditional protocols that are in place to promote waka safety, was the key message to emerge from a waka safety hui held in Wellington yesterday.

The hui, of key members of the Maori community closely involved in the operation of a wide range of different types of waka throughout the country, was called by the Maritime Safety Authority to discuss waka safety issues.

The Director of Maritime Safety, Russell Kilvington, said that "a key purpose of the hui was to begin establishing a relationship between the Maori community and the MSA, within the framework of a discussion about cultural and safety issues relating to waka".

"The hui was, I believe, of benefit to all concerned as it provided an opportunity for wide ranging discussion on waka safety, and helped to identify the key issues on which both the MSA and the Maori community can jointly focus attention in the future", Mr. Kilvington said.

The group was unanimous in concluding that:

* Overall, the safety record of waka is good relative to other water based activities. This is in large part due to the traditional waka safety culture which exists within the Maori community. Safety protocols are often in written form, but are also an inherent part of both the `on-water' training of waka crew and the operation of the waka itself.

* The MSA will seek to help waka operators to establish written codes of best practice for different types of waka for those wishing to use them. This may form a basis for specific national safety audits by the distinct types of operation such as waka ama in the future.

* Emphasis in improving waka safety, where this may be seen as necessary, is most usefully focused on better training, education and experience. Participation within waka activity itself breeds familiarity and competence.

* The MSA will develop key links with people in the waka community, for advice and media liaison.

* The MSA will use these links to obtain assistance in the investigation of any future waka accidents.

* Greater education of the public and the media about waka is needed, both in terms of their cultural significance to Maori and the traditional safety protocols that govern their use.

* The many different types of waka that are used in a range of different activities, and the different safety protocols needed for each, are also not well understood by those not directly involved in their operation.

Mr Kilvington said that the MSA and representatives of the Maori community would be working together over the coming months to implement the proposals put forward by the hui.

For further information, please contact the Divisional Manager, External Relations, Lindsay Sturt (04) 494-1235.

RELEASED BY MEDIACOM


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