19 Nov 2012

Bid to drown-proof rural Maori children

9:01 pm on 19 November 2012

Water Safety New Zealand has launched a five-year programme to boost the swimming ability of young Maori in rural areas.

Over the past six years 22% of drownings were Maori.

Portable pools will be rotated around rural centres, catering for up to 40 students at a time based at the kura.

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge says Maori consistently rate as one of the most at-risk groups.

He says Maori males spend a lot of time in or around water gathering kai which brings risks particularly if they can't swim.

Mr Claridge says Maori children aren't being exposed to swim-and-survive lessons as they should be.

He says another factor of the high drowning rate is a lack of supervision of Maori pre-school children.