Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
For the past 11 years, the Wai Wise programme has been educating at-risk groups with a focus on Pasifika, Māori and New Settler/Asian communities.
According to statistics, in the past five years, 21% Pasifika people drowned from boating related incidents. Helping to decrease these figures is Harry Aonga. Harry works for Drowning Prevention Auckland as an Aquatic Educator, providing important water safety education to communities in Tāmaki Makaurau.
Harry says, “there are considerably higher percentages of Asian, Māori & Pasifika people drowning in Tamaki Makaurau compared to NZ.
It is important to remember the humanity that sits behind our drowning statistics. Each drowning is a family member and the ripple effect into the community is immense and long-lasting,” says Aonga.
In comparison, while there is a lower percentage of Māori and NZ European drowning in Auckland, Harry says, “we strongly believe one drowning is too many and are deeply committed to ensuring mana whenua receive the support we can offer to support safe activity in, on and around the water.”
Wai Wise offers organisations and groups the opportunity to engage with the water in a practical but safe environment and learn personal skills such as critical thinking and decision making; that will assist them in the future when pursuing aquatic activity – these skills can and do save lives.
The programme was created to develop their water competencies, including decision making ability, risk management, and perception competencies so that they, and their extended whānau, can safely enjoy the aquatic environments.