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Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre On Drownings

From Outdoors New Zealand:

Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre Drownings - 14 April 2008

Outdoor recreation and education is embedded in the New Zealand psyche, with most New Zealanders living close to the mountains, rivers, lakes, bush and sea. Safety of participants and instructors is the foundation of outdoor education programmes, and the OPC tragedy has sent shock waves across the outdoor community throughout New Zealand and internationally.

It is important to recognize that it is impossible to eliminate the risks that are inherent in outdoor environments. However, what we must do is to clearly identify the hazards and risks, and to ensure that thoughtful and robust safety management systems are in place to minimize them.

Throughout their 36-year history, OPC has made a significant contribution to outdoor safety and risk management in New Zealand, including being one of the first outdoor centres to become accredited with OutdoorsMarkÔ, the national outdoor safety accreditation programme. OutdoorsMark, administered by Outdoors New Zealand, is a safety-focused audit that provides an independent audit for assessing the robustness of organisational safety policies, procedures and practices for alignment with currently accepted outdoor industry standards.

We must remember that tens of thousands of people, young and old, have had wonderfully enriching experiences at outdoor centres across NZ over the decades. The outdoors provides a unique and unparalleled environment for learning across the curriculum, and for personal and group development. Outdoor education is about having a connection to the world in which we live, a connection to ourselves, and a connection to other people. When young people are involved in both individual and group activities in the outdoors they learn about independence and interdependence, about trust, and about sustainability of the natural world. Kids must experience the natural environment in order to appreciate it. When they are immersed in the outdoors, with their feet in the river and an objective to achieve, they are truly discovering, learning and living.

The care and well being of outdoor participants is always at the forefront of outdoor educators thought processes. Thus this tragedy is felt deeply across the outdoor community in New Zealand and internationally. On behalf of Outdoors New Zealand, we offer our deepest condolences to the families and the community of those who died in the Mangetepopo Gorge yesterday, and to the staff at OPC. Our hearts are with you.

Outdoors New Zealand

Outdoors New Zealand is the national federation of over one-hundred organizations supporting and representing outdoor recreation and education in New Zealand.

Laura Adams

Chief Executive

Outdoors New Zealand



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