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Water Safety New Zealand

About Water Safety

New Zealand

As an island nation in the south pacific, enjoying the water is deeply engrained in our DNA. Our ocean, coasts, beaches, lakes and rivers help define us and reflect the people we have become. Water is life and in New Zealand, it’s our way of life. 

Through leadership, advocacy and education, Water Safety New Zealand works with water safety sector organisations, individuals and the public to reduce the incidence of drowning and injury in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Our work contributes to the reduction in drownings and to a thriving society for individuals, families and communities.

Experiences in, on or around the water are part of what we do and what makes us Kiwi. But sadly drownings and non-fatal drowning incidents are all too common. 


Daniel Gerrard

"Well, I’m a 49-year-old Pakeha male, a husband, a father, a son, a brother and an uncle. I’m also a boat owner and active fisherman. I’ll surf when I can, but love to dive to put kai moana on the dinner table. In short, I’m exactly the kind of bullet-proof ‘Kiwi Bloke’ we’ll lose over the coming months due to bad decisions made around water. And, in my other role as the Chief Executive of Water Safety New Zealand, I need your help."

How we make a difference

Water Safety New Zealand provides leadership, advocacy, policy development and funding to the water safety sector.

We are an association of members in the water safety sector with an elected board and recruited management and administration team. It is an incorporated society, with charitable status. The majority of our funding is received from the Lotteries Grants Board via Sport New Zealand for distribution to water safety providers through an annual grants round. Water Safety New Zealand itself is funded by Sport New Zealand while ACC, businesses, trusts, foundations and individuals support specific initiatives and programmes.



To make a difference we need to be exceptional. We punch above our weight and keep striving to be better. We face a complex problem and are problem solvers. We aim high and look to continuously improve.



We have one cause and don’t get distracted. We only do things that demonstrably increase safety in, on and around the water. We prioritise with the big picture at the heart of all our decision making and activity. We lead with trusted authority. 


Growth & Innovation 

We take risks, try different things and keep learning because things will always change. We take creative measures based on evidence to make bold decisions. We keep things fresh and engaging and we seek to grow the capability of our members and partners.



We are story tellers. We encourage, reinforce, stay forward looking and specify our messages in ways that draw people towards us and what we have to say. If we challenge, we do so positively. We’re an optimistic group tackling a tough challenge.



We’re in the caring business. We care about people and their prospects. So a generous and curious disposition is vital. We won’t judge. It’s also crucial to our team dynamic, we work under pressure and need to be supportive of each other.

Our Vision & Purpose

Through our work:

  • More people will influence others to have safe experiences in, on or around water.

  • More people will come to respect the power of water and know their own ability to manage theirs and other’s water experiences

  • More babies, toddlers and preschoolers will be nurtured around water by the people they trust

  • More school-age children will learn water skills for life

  • More young people will be exposed to water skills and pathways to water sports, volunteering and work experiences around water

  • More new New Zealanders and visitors to Aotearoa, New Zealand, will adopt the Kiwi culture of being respectful of the water, the conditions and be water-wise. 

By 2025 more people in New Zealand respect the water and have the skills, knowledge and awareness to enjoy it safely.


Kate Wareham

Kate is keenly aware of the need to influence water awareness and safety practices in NZ given the tragic fatality statistics and the significant impact this has on families throughout the country.

Core Member Delegate (SLSNZ)

Michael Bassett-Foss

Michael has a rich background and active experience across many facets of water safety and within the sector. These include Surf Life Saving New Zealand, swimming, kayaking, canoe, and multi-sport.

Independent director

Dr. Anne-Marie Jackson

Anne-Marie is a Māori academic in physical education and health and serves Māori organisations and communities in governance and advisory roles. She is co-Director of a new national Centre of Research Excellence Coastal People: Southern Skies.

Core Member Delegate (Swimming NZ)

Anna Tootill

Anna combines running her own taxation and legal advisory practice with a senior finance leadership role at Powerco Limited.
She has had a wide range of governance experience and currently is the deputy chair of Swimming New Zealand.

Independent Director

Peter Kara

Pete is of Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Rongomaiwahine descent and is currently a member of Coastguard New Zealand.

Independent Director

James Helmore

James has a professional background in the outdoor recreation and tourism industries. 

Our Leadership

Drowning Figures 












Over 55+
Download our 2022 Annual Report
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