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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.


Peter Kara

Pete  is of Ngtati Kahungunu and Ngati Rongomaiwahine descent and is currently a member of Coastguard New Zealand Te Puhura mana Iwi , Maori, Pacifica and Asian Advisory group. Pete has also recently completed  6 years on the Coastguard New Zealand Board . He has been a member of Coastguard  for over 15 years  in Nelson.

In his board role Pete and 2 other board members reviewed NZ Drowning statistics for a 5 year period to learn more about the causes of drowning to better understand what was happening .

Pete has been fortunate to have a diverse career across a range of roles from the Military to the UN and an International treaty organisation banning Chemical Weapons to his current role as a Principal Advisor Emergency Management  in the health sector.

Pete is an avid water user from being  a  boatie,  to an occasional sea kayaker,  a recreational swimmer and a qualified Diver  having had the privilege to dive in a number of countries.   

Pete currently lives in Whakatu  (Nelson) which has an abundance of aquatic activities to keep a water lover happy .and is proud to be a member of the Water Safety new Zealand Board

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 NZ.  Anna brings a strong commercial acumen along with her finance and risk management skills to all her roles.  As an advisor she has spent numerous hours advocating for policy and legislation changes over the years.

Over the summer (and some of the colder months too) you will find Anna and her whanau either on the water or in it, swimming, surfing and boating.  Anna is passionate about our Tamaraki learning to swim and being safe in and on the water, it is this passion that originally bought her to Swimming NZ.   She spent many of her younger years patrolling our beaches and competing as a surf lifeguard.  Based in the Waikato, Anna is also a member of the Institute of Directors and holds a practising certificate as Barrister & Solicitor.

Independent Director

James Helmore

James has a professional background in the outdoor recreation and tourism industries. This includes governance, general management, marketing and sales roles, with significant collaboration and partnership experience with commercial and not for profit entities across the public and private sectors at a regional, national and international level.

James loves to get out exploring the great outdoors with his family and appreciates the importance of the work Water Safety New Zealand does to ensure everyone has the right skills and experience to enjoy our spectacular lakes and rivers confidently and safely. He has a passion for multisport, kayaking white water rivers in a multisport long boat, and lake swimming.

General Member Delegate

Kira Schaffler

Kira has been a member of the Water Safety New Zealand Board since October 2021. She has extensive governance experience, both as a Board member and as an executive, interacting with and advising Boards, specifically in the People & Culture and executive remuneration areas.


Kira spent 9 years with Fonterra in a variety of senior leadership roles in New Zealand and Europe. Following this, she led various large-scale transformational change projects in the not-for-profit and corporate sectors, including governance and organisational restructures in Coastguard and the SPCA – in each case culminating in more unified, national entities, poised to drive long-term strategy and enhanced community benefits.

As an avid ‘boatie’, Kira has a deep appreciation for water safety and the critical role that education, communication and advocacy play in preventing avoidable drowning and other marine-related crises.

General Member Delegate (Waka Ama NZ)

Corrina Gage

Corrina is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Whānau a Apanui, Tainui and Ngāti Pūkenga descent. Raised near Mt Ruapehu and the shores of Lake Taupo, she resides in Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) with her husband Kim. 

She has maintained regular involvement in governance with Boards in the health and outdoor arenas. 

With 40 years of working and competing on water, Corrina brings to Water Safety NZ her participatory experience in ocean, river and lake activities. She has competed internationally in open ocean outrigger canoe events, white water world championships, multi-sport events and dragon boat world championships.   

Corrina contracts abroad and in New Zealand as a water sports coach; primarily in Waka Ama/Outrigger Canoeing. She works with club coaches to support the delivery of fun, safe water experiences, as well as coaching individuals and crews to higher performance at an international level. 

She maintains a balance between family, work and giving voluntary support to facilitating other New Zealanders enjoyment of our water environments. She currently gives her time to the development of Para paddling in New Zealand, with a goal of more Para participation and medals at international events. 

Corrina is the proud mother of 2 adult children, Ariaan and Te Maia, and  grandmother of the 2 most amazing mokopuna ever born (her words), Lily-huia and Marko.

Our Leadership

Our Team

Simon Williamson

General Manager | Data Research and Insights


Gavin Walker

General Manager | Partnerships

Full Name

General Manager | Data Research and Insights


Full Name

General Manager | Data Research and Insights


Our Team

Chief Executive

Daniel Gerrard

Kerry Cooper

Executive Assistant -
Daniel Gerrard

General Manager Partnerships & Funding

Gavin Walker

General Manager Data, Research & Insights

Chris Casey

Senior Advisor – Information and Research

Felicity Fozard

General Manager Business Services

Caron Mounsey-Smith

Kaihautu Maori

Rob Hewitt

Interventions Lead - WSFL

Esther Hone

Brand & Marketing Manager

Lewis Ryan

Drowning Figures 












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