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Water Safety New Zealand


Water Safety New Zealand
Annual Report 2023

Karakia for Tangaroa

He huanui, he huaroa ki te Ao

From the energies of the extensive and intensive ocean we will learn

Omāio ki tua e

To maintain balance

Ka rongo ki te Waitai e
Reciprocation of healing is needed

Haramai e te Taipari – Haramai e te Taitimu
Celebrate the provisions of the full and low tides

Nāu e Hinemoana – Nāu Tangaroa ē

The sacred domain of Hinemoana and Tangaroa.

Water Safety New Zealand

Navigating this Annual Report.

2023 / 23

As we continue to focus on providing more engaging resources for the water safety sector, our partners and most importantly the people of Aotearoa. We have created this web based Annual Report to help users navigate to their topics of interest with greater ease and accesibility. 


Water Safety New Zealand Strategic Direction.

Learn more about Water Safety New Zealand, our strategic direction, what we do, how we are funded, and who we work with. 


Chief Executive and Board Statements

"As I reflect on the journey of Water Safety NZ (WSNZ) throughout 2022/23, I am humbled and proud to present to you the achievements, challenges, and ongoing transformations that have defined our year. The essence of our mission, to ensure every Kiwi can enjoy our country's beautiful waters safely, has never been more critical."


Financial Position

Review our current financial position and signed financial statements. Independently audited by BDO and provided in accordance with our governing constitution.

Navigate directly to specific content of interest in our 2023 Annual Report. If you are having trouble locating anything, please don't hesitate to contact us and we'll be sure to help out. 

Navigation Guidance

Board Chair Report - Kate Wareham

Tēnā koutou

As Chair of the Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) Board, I am honoured to present the annual report for 2022/23.

The challenges Aotearoa faces with preventable drowning remain significant. Despite the tireless efforts of our members and sector organisations, the number of preventable drownings and water-related injuries remains a concern.  Special mention to our core members - Coastguard New Zealand, Surf Life Saving New Zealand, and Swimming New Zealand for your lead role.  I want to acknowledge and thank all these individuals and groups; without their dedicated efforts the situation could be far worse.  The 94 preventable drownings recorded in 2022, represented the highest annual drowning fatalities in the last decade. This figure was 12 fatalities above the 10-year average of 82 and reminds us of the work ahead.

Chief Executive Report - Daniel Gerrard

Ko Kapukataumahaka te māunga

Ko Whakaherekau te moana

Ko Rimutaka te waka

Ko Gherardini da Tusca tōku iwi

Ko Gerrard tōku hapū

Ko David Gerrard rāua ko Barbara McLean ōku mātua

Ko Daniel Gerrard tōku ingoa

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa


As I reflect on the journey of Water Safety NZ (WSNZ) throughout 2022/23, I am humbled and proud to present to you the achievements, challenges, and ongoing transformations that have defined our year. The essence of our mission, to ensure every Kiwi can enjoy our country's beautiful waters safely, has never been more critical.

Financial Report

Our general purpose financial report for the year ended 30 June 2023 contains our Statement of Service Performance, which outlines our non-financial performance, and our Financial statements. Our financial report was audited by Moore Markhams Wellington, 29 September 2023 and is in accordance with the Public Benefit Entity Standards Reduced Disclosure Regime (PBE Standards RDR).

Wai Ora Aotearoa Water Safety Sector Strategy 2025

We are the leader of the water safety sector and take overall responsibility for leading, implementing and delivering some of the actions in the Wai Ora Aotearoa Navigating to a Safer future ‘NZ Water Safety Sector Strategy 2025’ (Sector Strategy).


Implementation of the sector strategy is the responsibility of the water safety sector secretariat that sits within WSNZ. The secretariat's primary function is to project manage delivery of the plan. This broadly involves collaborative planning, risk management, and governance of the Wai Ora Leadership Group (WOL) and their advisory committees.

Funding Round 

The purpose of our annual funding round is to co-invest in community- led initiatives that respond to the drivers of drowning in New Zealand.  The funding round aims to improve New Zealanders opportunities to learn water survival skills which over time this should improve New Zealanders competencies to survive in, on or around water.

 Longer term this should contribute to increasing New Zealanders water safety competencies and may modify behaviors and may also result in interventions that help reduce drowning fatalities and hospitalisations. 

The 2022/23 funding round was different from previous years, with change being driven by our focus on evidence-based interventions, and greater accountability from those we fund.

Data, Research & Insights

Over the year we’ve improved our data and evidence as they need to be robust to ensure our funding decisions are sound, and our, and our sector partners, water safety and drowning prevention interventions are effective.


We did this by investing in modern data storage and analytical tools that enable us to add other sources of information (e.g. ACC injuries and incidents, Department of Conservation Incidents) and look at our data in different ways.


As a result, our database is more user friendly and capable of telling a richer story about what is driving the drowning rate, and the socio-demographic profile of those who are drowning.


Our Drowning Report 2022, which tells an insightful story about drownings by region, activity, and environment is an example of our now improved capability. 


The report contains some clear messages for policy makers, sector leaders, programme deliverers, and New Zealanders.


This evidenced based approach to drowning prevention is one of the many tools we, working with the sector, can use to drive change and to refine our interventions to help those most at risk of drowning.

Water Skills for Life

Our Water Skills for Life (WSFL) programme remains our most significant water safety intervention. The programme seeks to ensure that primary aged children have the opportunity to learn basic skills, and knowledge to survive in, on, and around water. More learning opportunities, and better survival skills may over time result in people changing their behaviours around water based on risk awareness.

The refreshed WSFL programme now comprises three levels:

• Foundational skills for years 1-8 taught in pools

• Extension programme, for years 5-8, that builds on skills learnt in pool but taught in other environments – beaches, rivers and lakes

• Refresher content to sustain competencies and best practise over the remaining life stages.

2022 Annual Report

2021 Annual Report

2020 Annual Report

2019 Annual Report

2018 Annual Report

2017 Annual Report

2016 Annual Report

2015 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report

2013 Annual Report

Previous Annual Reports

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