Portable Swimming Pool to boost the water skills of young rural Maori
‘If the kids can’t get to the swimming pool...
... maybe the swimming pool can get to the kids.’
That’s the thinking behind a portable swimming pool – gifted to Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) by New Zealand Post – which will be rotated around rural centres over the next five years as part of a programme to boost the water safety skills of Maori youth.
The pool – which is roughly 10x5 metres – holds 50,000 litres of water when in use, and has detachable marquees which allow it to be used come rain or shine. It caters for up to 40 students at a time and can be heated to 28 degrees Celsius, providing an ideal environment for teaching.
Its portability provides a solution to one of the main issues affecting the water safety skills of rural Maori; a lack of access to suitable, cost effective facilities that are appropriate for water safety education.
Once the pool is set up at a rural Kura Kaupapa access will be provided to as many surrounding Kura as possible, and to other members of the community to ensure maximum use of the resource. Then, in time, the pool will move on to the next location – thus living up to the ‘portable’ part of its name.
In the months ahead the pool will be moved to appropriate locations in the Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, East Coast / Tairawhiti and Hawke’s Bay.
“This is a new way of doing things, which will enable us to teach water safety and survival skills in locations where aquatic facilities are inaccessible or unsuitable for education,” Matt Claridge, the chief executive of Water Safety New Zealand says.
“Maori consistently rate as one of New Zealand’s most “at-risk” groups in terms of drowning fatalities. This portable pool will encourage their safe enjoyment of water-based activities. Ultimately we hope that efforts such as this will help to make a dent in the high annual drowning toll among Maori,” Matt Claridge says.
New Zealand Post’s head of sponsorship, Nicola Airey, says they’re delighted to be able to assist with the provision of such a practical and important resource.
“This portable pool is a great addition to ‘Kia Maanu, Kia Ora! (Stay Afloat, Stay Alive)’ - our partnership with WSNZ to provide water safety and survival education to young Maori.
“The Kia Maanu, Kia Ora campaign focuses on providing young Maori with the skills to educate Whanau, Iwi and members of the Maori community on staying safe while enjoying their traditional and cultural links with the water.
“This isn’t simply a case of making a pool available and hoping people learn. Our partners in this campaign, Water Safety New Zealand will be tracking the progress of young Maori to ensure that their skill levels are rising,” Nicola Airey said.
The portable pool swung into service this month with a powhiri ceremony at Kura Kaupapa Maori in Port Waikato.
- Maori account for approx 15% of the New Zealand population
- 22% of drowning over the past six years are Maori
- 38% of all children under 5 who drown are Maori
- 36% of all children aged 5-14 years who drown are Maori
- 84% of Maori that drown are male (New Zealand average 75%)