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Maori Drowning Toll Sinking

14 December 2006

Maori Drowning Toll Sinking

Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) figures released for Maori show an encouraging decline in drownings compared to this time last year. Drowning statistics as at the 30th November 2006 for Maori indicate a toll of 17 compared with the 22 drowning victims the same time last year. There were 23 drowning fatalities for Maori in 2005.

Mark Haimona, Water Safety Coordinator, believes that “although the toll is sinking there are still too many preventable drownings and water related injuries happening amongst our whanau. Key areas where Maori are most ‘at risk’ in and near water, are Maori male aged 15-44 years participating in activities such as, diving for kaimoana, boating, fishing and swimming.

In most cases the common factors to emerge have been the lack of correct safety equipment, not checking the conditions, lack of fitness and inexperience. Tamariki preschoolers are also most ‘at risk’ because of inadequate supervision in and around the home, including paddling pools, baths and ponds.

Rivers and inland waterways are still the most dangerous site, contributing up to a third of all drowning deaths for Maori in 2005.

Eight Maori drowned in rivers last year compared to three so far this year.

RiverSafe education covering the physical features and dangers of rivers has been encouraged in kura and schools throughout the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions, in an effort to ensure safer participation.

This holiday season WSNZ is promoting the phrase ‘Kia Mataara’, be alert when enjoying the water with whanau and friends. This message is vital in taking personal and group responsibility for being safe in, on and near water.

“In most cases, particularly with tamariki, drowning is a silent process, which happens because no one is watching out for them”, Haimona explains.

WSNZ has recently developed new resources to help promote the water safety message in kohanga reo and early childhood learning centres.

Water safety promotion of the ‘Kia Mataara’ message through media such as Maori TV, Iwi Radio Stations and publications will feature throughout the 2006/07 summer season. WSNZ will also be present at the Waka Ama Sprint Nationals at Karapiro and the Matatini Kapahaka Festival in Palmerston North in the New Year.

Mark Haimona says “the promotion of water safety to Maori through the Kia Maanu, Kia Ora campaign over the past three years has received very positive feedback and will continue to be supported by WSNZ in the future.“


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