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Water Safety New Zealand

Drowning Prevention
2023 Funding Round

Drowning Prevention fund – supported by Sport New Zealand and the Lotteries Grants Board

Welcome to the Drowning Prevention Fund. This fund invests in community led initiatives that tackle the greatest drivers of drowning in Aotearoa. By investing in this way, we aim to help drive down the drowning rate and build water safety focussed community capability focussed on the highest risks.


These priorities reflect the priorities agreed in Wai Ora Aotearoa 2025, the New Zealand water safety sector strategy. They are consistent with the priorities that underpinned last year’s funding round. Focusing on these agreed priorities ensures that funded programmes have the greatest chance of making a difference to our drowning rate.

When thinking about these priorities, please take the time to review the 2022 Drowning Report | Water Safety NZ . This contains specific information about who’s drowning, what were they doing and where they were that will help refine interventions to ensure that they are focussed on improving outcomes for those who are most ‘at risk’.



This age group continues to be vulnerable to drowning fatalities and injuries, and projects and initiatives that focus on parental education on active supervision will be preferred.

This includes expanding existing initiatives and developing effective campaigns to improve the knowledge/mātauranga, attitudes/whakapapa and behaviours/tikanga of parents and caregivers.


Reducing male drowning and improve decision making in the 15-34 age range.

Males in this age group are at heightened risk of drowning. Targeted water safety projects and initiatives aimed at changing the risk-taking behaviour around water of males aged 15 – 34 years are welcomed.


Programmes and tools that aids people’s awareness of the difference between their perceived competencies and real competencies.

Analysis of drowning fatality data has identified that many drowning victims over-estimate their in-water ability and underestimate the conditions.


Targeted interventions for overrepresented groups, activities and environments.

Applications are invited for projects that deliver strong water safety outcomes for high-risk communities, activities and environments, particularly related to one or more of the following:

  • Communities where there is a disproportionate risk of poor water safety outcomes and participation in water safety training activity is low, including: Māori, Pacific peoples, Asian, new immigrants, and hard to reach or remote communities.

  • High risk activities including scuba and free diving, snorkelling and rock fishing. An example of what is sought would be the design and provision of training programmes for activities where water safety interventions are not well developed or current interventions are ineffective.

  • Environments that pose particular drowning hazards such as high-risk rivers, dangerous swimming holes, beaches or high drowning incident fishing areas.


Interventions/programmes/approaches that are focused on:

What does this fund cover?

Interventions/programmes/approaches that clearly demonstrate:

  • A good knowledge of who is being targeted and the specific situation causing risk, and that this aligns with those who are most at risk based on past drownings.

  • A good understanding of what is driving the higher risk for the target group. Is it a knowledge gap, skill gap, decision making challenge, equipment issue, etc is the underlying cause of increased risk in this specific situation?

  • A solution that matches the problem and needs of the target group.  We are after well thought out approaches that can demonstrate a high likelihood of reducing the risk for the target group/situation.

  • A commitment to ongoing learning and improvement.

This fund is not focused on:

  • Search and Rescue services - funding for this may be available through the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board Outdoor Safety Committee.

  • Craft related interventions – funding for this priority is already provided for via Maritime New Zealand’s Safer Boating (FED) funding.

  • Costs arising from changes to government policies, regulations, or legislation.

  • Professional development for organisations or individuals.

  • Research.

  • Capital expenses.

  • Clubs delivering programmes to their members.

  • Schools delivering programmes to their students.

  • In general, applications for capital expenditure, debt repayments and an organisations’ day to day operational/running costs will not be funded.


Assessment criteria

History tells us that applications for funding support will far outweigh the money available. Decisions will be based on the following criteria:

  1. Alignment with priority problem. Who is being targeted, where, doing what and what makes this group a priority.

  2. Appropriateness of the solution and expected impact. A well evidenced and thought through approach that demonstrates a clear relationship between the solution and targeted challenge and that is likely to result in a meaningful impact on safe engagement with wai.

  3. Monitoring and Evaluation. How you will track progress and assess the effectiveness of the project and the achievement of outcomes. 

  4. Warranty. Demonstrating track record and capability to deliver the project to the standards it has proposed, efficiently and effectively.

  5. Collaboration and Leverage. This is about the ability of the project/applicant to generate collective effort and buy-in, or additional funding from other stakeholders. It is worth noting that Water Safety New Zealand would look to see that the provider had other funding sources available, rather than relying solely on Water Safety New Zealand’s funding support.


You will have noticed that applying for funding from us is occurring 6-8 weeks later than previous years. Unfortunately, the funding that we receive isn’t confirmed until late July, early August each year. This determines when decision can be made. We also received feedback last year that the delay between applying for funding and making decisions was far too long and that this drove frustration and uncertainty. For this reason, we have delayed and shortened the process. But our commitment is to make decisions within the same timeframe as we last year. Decisions were made and communicated late August, and this will also be the case this year.

Apply Here

2023/24 Drowning Prevention Fund

Water Safety New Zealand is pleased to announce that the 2023-2024 Drowning Prevention funding round is now open for applications.

Key Dates:

  • 21 July 2023 - Funding Round Open

  • 11 August 2023 (5pm) - Applications Close

  • End of August 2023 - Notification of outcomes to applicants

Get in Touch

Contact Esther Hone ( or 0275745066), Interventions Lead for Water Safety New Zealand or Gavin Walker ( or 021899798) to discuss your proposal or clarify any concerns before applying.

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