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Waka Guidelines Launch - PR and Speech

Thursday October 4


Waka Guidelines Launch

Waka will paddle in to Hobson’s Wharf in the Viaduct Basin today (Thursday) to present the first National Safety Guidelines for Waka to kaumatua and Mark Gosche, Minister of Transport.

"The guidelines are the result of 18 months work following a fatal waka incident early last year. They have been developed by the waka community in partnership with the Maritime Safety Authority to detail safety procedures for waka", said Mr Gosche.

Junior crews training for the world sprint championships will help launch the safety guidelines with on the water demonstrations of safety procedures and equipment.

“These guidelines are a symbol of consultation and partnership between the government and the waka community. They will help to ensure the integrity, mana and future of a national symbol – the waka.”

“The consultation process has contributed to the resurgence of Kaupapa Waka and there is no doubt that it has helped to strengthen the waka community. Of great importance is the fact that these guidelines recognise traditional Maori safety practices and waka knowledge.”

As well as detailing safety procedures the guidelines clarify the roles and responsibilities of all those who paddle, support and embrace the waka. They also outline training, operational and emergency procedures, equipment and construction requirements.

“The MSA works to promote safety on the water and we are pleased to have been able to support such a positive initiative, driven by the waka community to ensure the safety of their crews,” says Russell Kilvington, Director of Maritime Safety.

Note to chief reporters:
The launch is at 11.00am at Hobson’s Wharf adjacent to the Maritime Museum, in the Viaduct Basin, Auckland. Afterwards members of the Nga Waka Federation and Nga Kaihoe o Aotearoa will be available for comment.

ENDS

Hon Mark Gosche
Thursday 4 October 2001 Speech Notes

Launch of the National Safety Guidelines for Waka

Tena Koutou katoa, talofa lava, greetings to you all.
Thank you for inviting me here today. It is a pleasure be here to launch the National Safety Guidelines for waka taua and waka ama. In particular I’d like to acknowledge:

- Auckland Mayor, the Hon Christine Fletcher

- Nga Waka Federation, and Nga Kaihoe o Aotearoa

- Maori MPs and kaumatua (to confirm on day) and

- officials from the Maritime Safety Authority, Te Puni Kokiri and the New Zealand Police.

Introduction

Today is a celebration of one and a half years of collaboration and partnership between the Nga Waka federation, Nga Kaihoe o Aotearoa and the Maritime Safety Authority.

This launch signifies the government's commitment to safety. And it does so in a manner that demonstrates open mindedness, flexibility and collaboration.

The creation of these guidelines has not been ‘plain sailing’.

I would like to acknowledge the events of last year that has bought the safety procedures on Waka to the forefront and sparked debate within Maori communities and in the media.

The tragic drowning of a waka crew member in Rotorua last year was a great shock. Coming as it did after incidents in Gisborne and Waitangi it made it very clear that a review of safety procedures on waka was urgently required.

Emotions ran high at that time. What was immediately apparent was the sheer lack of public awareness about waka types, construction materials and water conditions. Also, the image of waka crew in bright orange lifejackets resulted in strong negative responses from some.

The Maritime Safety Authority responded, with its partners the Ngä Waka Federation and Ngä Kaihoe o Aotearoa, by establishing a team of Waka leaders. A series of hui were held throughout the country to consult with Iwi and waka groups. The goal was to facilitate a nation-wide consultation process and to develop a code of safe practice for Waka - Kaupapa Waka and Waka Ama.

I acknowledge those team members present today and commend you for your efforts. All those involved in the development of these guidelines can be justifiably proud. The guidelines represent 18 months extensive collaboration and nationwide consultation. This has been an important process. It is one with which waka leaders are comfortable and it allows for collective ownership of the outcomes.

Lifejackets
One of the most contentious issues discussed was the use of lifejackets – this warrants a specific mention.

This issue has generated much public debate and I’d like to make it clear now that the guidelines presented today do not require Waka Taua crew to wear lifejackets. This is for two reasons:
 first, it is often considered inappropriate for crew to wear lifejackets in certain circumstances, particularly during major ceremonial events; and
 second, alternative safety procedures have been included in the safety guidelines to address problems arising from capsize of a waka or person overboard.
I know in many circumstances life jackets are already worn.

The Guidelines
These guidelines have contributed to the resurgence of ‘ kaupapa Waka’ and there is no doubt that they have helped to strengthen the Waka community. Of great importance is the fact that these guidelines recognise traditional safety practices and waka knowledge.

The guidelines are an important resource. They offer comprehensive and consolidated codes of safe practice for waka taua and waka ama, in terms of operational and emergency procedures. They also serve to clarify the roles and responsibilities of those involved with waka, the design and construction of boats and important Maori terminology.

As well the guidelines provide a very useful template for waka operators to compose their own personalised plans, taking into account their unique regional or iwi requirements.

The Future
Development of the guidelines is an important beginning, but they are just that - a beginning. We also need to keep in mind that they are guidelines - they are not safety plans for operating a waka taua and waka ama.

They are designed to be used by individual iwi and waka operators, and certain waka ama clubs, to develop safe operating plans.

I am happy to announce that the Maritime Safety Authority has facilitated funding for the implementation of this phase through the Community Employment Group and the Department of Labour.

These guidelines are a symbol of consultation and partnership. They give the waka community a voice, for the first time. They will ensure the integrity, mana and future of a national symbol – the waka.
Tena ano Koutou Katoa.


ENDS

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