Youth – Wai Wise

Wai Wise is an innovative drowning prevention programme targeting Pacific, Maori and Asian youth (16-24years), traditionally involved in water-related activities, but lacking the skills and knowledge to keep themselves safer while doing so.

Wai Wise has been running in Waitakere, where a three-year pilot has just concluded and been evaluated, showing that it has directly benefitted 228 people, and while it was targeting specific groups it also achieved positive outcomes across the wider community.

“I’m walking away confidently knowing that I have taken a lot of information about the water that I can carry on for my church or family.” (Wai Wise participant)

As well as significant improvements in personal water safety skills the evaluation has highlighted increased self-esteem, leadership skills, social connectedness and community wellbeing, as well as career and employment pathways.

Aims and Objectives

  • Give youth practical knowledge and skills to keep themselves, their whanau and communities safer around water;
  • Increase participation in aquatic-based sport and recreation; and
  • Develop role models to deliver and promote safety messages and safer behaviour in their communities.

Delivery is over a 6-8 week period (tailored to meet the needs of each group), combining practical learning components in the classroom, pool and open water environments.


 2010-2013 Key Outcomes (participants)

  • 92% reported significant improvements in personal water safety skills
  • 90% could describe and demonstrate how to help someone in the water while not putting their own life in danger
  • 77% reported increased water confidence
  • 27 completed separate Leadership Training
  • 12 gained a Workplace First Aid certification
  • 20 gained Level 1 Swimming Instructor certification

Note: The complete evaluation will be posted on this page as soon as it has been published.

Wai Wise has been a successful collaboration between WaterSafe Auckland, Sport Waitakere, Safe Waitakere (now Safer West) and Surf Life Saving New Zealand, supported with funding from Sport New Zealand.

With such a successful pilot, the partners are committed to taking Wai Wise to more of Auckland’s youth, with plans already in place for a programme with Manurewa Marae.

For more information about Wai Wise please contact Aquatic Educator Harry Aonga harry.aonga@watersafe.org.nz