January 13, 2014
Swimming lessons promote life skills
A Hawkes Bay initiative to promote water safety among young Maori has this year expanded to a six-day camp involving 100 children and 30 mentors.
Te Aute-based youth worker Zack Makaore, who initiated Te Taitimu Trust’s wananga in 2007, says it is about building the wairua, or spirit and confidence, of the tamariki.
Many of the young people come from poor families and tough backgrounds, and the wananga is not just about teaching them how to swim but also showing them some options for their future.
"By rebuilding our relationship with Tangaroa, we gain respect for the sea and understand our limitations," Mr Makaore says.
"That means saying our karakia, wearing life jackets, only taking the amount of paua or fish that we are permitted to take, understanding how to read the signs of the sea. It's about respecting Tangaroa and its bounty."
Water Safety NZ chief executive Matt Claridge says Maori have consistently been over-represented in drowning statistics, so it’s important to back initiatives that are driving cultural change.
Last year 15 Maori drowned, compared with the five-year average and 2012 toll of 23.
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