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LESSON: Dangers and safety rules for places we swim


The Water Safety Code consists of four simple rules to remember when you’re in, on or around water.

  1. Being prepared,
  2. Tamariki being watched by adults,
  3. Understanding potential dangers around water and
  4. How to recognise them and how to stay safe in, on and around water

The Water Safety Code will help tamariki understand how they and their whanau can have a safe and enjoyable time around water.



Achievement Objectives

Te Marautanga o Aotearoa


Personal Health & Development


Find and use information to make and action safe choices in a range of contexts.

Movement concepts and Motor Skills

Physical Education

Demonstrate willingness to learn new skills and strategies, and extend their abilities in movement-related activities.

Te Aho Matua

Te Ira Tangata

The student is enthusiastic about learning in a nurturing environment based on traditional Māori values beliefs and concepts.

Te Reo

The student is immersed in te reo me ngā tikanga Māori.

Te Ao

The student acknowledges his or her place in the Māori world and wider world.

Āhuatanga Ako

The student is actively engaged in learning.

Wai Puna



  • Listening to the water

  • Reading the water

  • Acting appropriately depending on what you hear and see.

  • Always be in pairs (takirua ki uta, takirua ki tai).

  • Life Jackets.

  • Do not turn your back to the water.

  • Give a koha back.

  • Practice makes perfect.

  • Have two forms of communication.

  • Our Kaitiaki are our masters of safety.

  • Learn to play safely.



Learning Intentions

Students learn:

  • The four rules from the Water Safety Code to be safe when they're in, on or around water.

  • To listen and read the water, and act appropriately in different types of water.

  • Tikanga to keep themselves and others safe.

Success Criteria

Students are able to:

  • Identify guardians associated to waterways in Aotearoa.

  • Create a lesson to teach the class on how to read water and to prepare safely for water activities.

  • Create a poster that either; Identifies water hazards or/ the four safety codes and other rules to follow when you’re in, on or around water.

  • Discuss how to keep themselves and others safe using a variety of scenarios.


Atlases and maps from the school library.

Atlases and maps - from school library

Blank map of Aotearoa

Blank map of local environment

Places and place names website link

The Water Safety Code

Kia Maanu Kia Ora Water Safety code Brochure

Water Safety and Awareness Competencies from the Water Skills for Life programme




Wānanga 1


Atua and Kaitiaki

1. The battle of Tangaroa and Tāwhirimātea

Students recap and review the story of Tangaroa and his battle with his brother Tāwhirimātea. Discussion could be around Tangaroa’s moods, his strengths. The battle between the brothers creates elements that we need to be able to read, and be careful of when we are around weather.

Some iwi have different/other guardians,

  • Hinemoana
  • Taniwha
  • Kiwa
  • Kaitiaki

2. Tuhirangi

Teacher talks about one of Kupe’s taniwha Tuhirangi who lives in the Cook Strait who protected canoes crossing between the two Islands.

3. Tamariki research other guardians of different iwi or of their local area and create a Powerpoint/Presentation of three different examples.

Tamariki need to identify

  • Name of the guardian and their relationship to Tangaroa. (ie child of Tangaroa, no relation)
  • Where are they guardians (which iwi or area of Aotearoa)
  • A story associated with the guardian

Q. How do they keep us safe?


Wānanga 2

Understanding and learning how to read water and to prepare safely for water activities.

This lesson is about using knowledge and strategies to help keep yourself safe during a water activity.

Being able to read the water is an essential skill when wanting to participate safely in water activities. The aim of this lesson is to look at the various methods or knowledge people use to effectively read water conditions.

These include

  • Using weather maps

  • Using Marine forecasts

  • Using swell maps

  • Checking for hidden hazards

  • Understanding and identifying waves

  • Understanding and identifying rips

  • Understanding and identifying currents

  • Being able to see signs of danger

  • Being able to read water turbulence

1. Activity

Tamariki will be broken into pairs or threes dependent on class numbers. Each group will be given one of the methods above to research and then teach to the entire class. Group lessons will be at least 15 minutes.

The features of the method that the tamariki may need to teach their class may include:

  • What is their subject?
  • What does their subject look like?
  • Important features of their subject
  • How can it be identified?
  • How can knowing about it help to make an activity safe?
  • How can using it make an activity safe?
  • How can knowing about it help others?
  • What type of water body will this be most effective for or found in?

Students are also to show and or play an example where possible


Wānanga 3-4

1. Groups present their 15-20min lesson to the class.

Wānanga 5


Tikanga to keep themselves and others safe

Pātai - What are some rules for keeping ourselves safe in the different bodies of water?

1. Contact organisations such as Water Safety NZ, Surf Life Saving, DOC, and knowledgeable people in the community

Ask these people to either come to the school to talk to children or meet at the waterway to discuss hazards and how to keep safe in the different bodies of water. While at these bodies of water, tamariki can practice traditional tikanga taught in the previous lessons such as karakia, mihi, koha etc


Wānanga 6


Tikanga to keep themselves and others safe

1. Class discuss the learnings from their previous lesson and create a list on the white board

  • Hazards to be aware of in, on and around water
  • Safety practices learnt

2. Whole class discussion on the four safety codes to remember when you’re in, on or around water.

  1. Be prepared
  2. Watch out for yourself and others
  3. Be aware of dangers
  4. Know your limits

3. Using their knowledge learnt plus the following resources printed, tamariki are to produce a poster on either

  • How to identify risks in different bodies of water
  • The four safety codes and other rules to follow to remember when you’re in, on or around water


(Another activity if time permits, is for the tamariki to create a short video either discussing potential dangers around water, how to recognise dangers, and how to stay safe in, on and around water).


Wānanga 7


Safe Scenarios

Teacher prints scenario on A3 paper. Teacher poses each scenario to the tamariki. Tamariki are to discuss ways that they can keep themselves safe in the different situations. Teacher writes the answers that the tamariki come up with on the A3 paper. Teacher discusses any other ways to keep safe that the children did not discuss.

How to keep safe

You are at the beach and want to go for a swim

  • Where do you swim?

  • How do you enter the water safely?

  • Waves are coming quickly

    • What do you do?



Always swim between the red and yellow flags where the lifeguards can see you, Stay in the shallow water, never swim alone, turn back to the wave as they splash.

You are visiting a lake you have never been to before.

  • How do you know it is safe to swim?

  • The water gets very deep, very quickly

    • What do you do?


Read the safety signs, check the weather, ask a local, swim in the designated swimming zone, check for hazards (currents, wildlife, etc.), check the depth before entering.

You are at the pool and suddenly realise you are out of your depth

  • What should you do?


  1. Stay calm
  2. Float, scull and tread water

  3. Wave

  4. Call for HELP!

You are playing on a large inflatable in a lake. The conditions are very windy and you fall off. The inflatable blows away

  • What do you do?


  1. Stay calm
  2. Float, scull and tread water
  3. Wave
  4. Call for HELP! Do not try to swim after the inflatable. Use a survival stroke to get to safety.

You are boating with your family and the boat capsizes 25/50m from shore

  • What do you do?


Huddle together, place elderly, children or injured people in the middle of the huddle. Always stay together holding hands or linking arms. Use survival strokes to head to shore.

You are at the beach with your family, but there are no red and yellow flags and the water looks rough.

  • Should you go swimming?
  • What conversation would you have with the adults in your family?
  • You see someone swimming who is caught in a rip current
    • What could you do?


Check for safety signs.

Do not enter the water if conditions look dangerous. Call for HELP!,

Dry rescue strategies – talk, reach, throw using items available.




  • Presentation of Kaitiaki
  • Group lesson to class on understanding and learning how to read water and to prepare safely for water activities
  • Posters on identifying hazards and the four safety codes along with other rules to follow to remember when you’re in, on or around water
  • Safe Scenarios




These resources can be organised across the four strands of learning:

Waiora – personal health and development

Piki mai, kake mai. Homai te waiora ki ahau.

Come to me, join with me. Bring me the waters of life.

Students will explore and learn about food and nutrition that sustain the physical body, and explore the notion of sustenance that contributes to the wellbeing of mind and spirit. Students will also describe, consider and analyse aspects of personal growth and development, safety and safe practices.

Koiri - Movement concepts and motor skills

Ko te piko o te māhuri, tērā te tupu o te rākau. As the sapling is bent, so the tree will grow.

Students will develop and apply movement concepts and motor skills and have opportunities to participate in and enjoy physical activities.

Taiao - Health and the environment

Hāhā te whenua, hāhā te tangata. Desolate land, desolate people.

Students will discuss and exchange ideas about the close and enduring relationship between people and the natural environment, exploring ways to lessen harmful environmental impacts.

Tangata - People and relationships

He taura taonga e motu, he taura tangata e kore e motu.

A string of beads is easily broken, but human bonds can never be severed.

Students will describe and analyse human relationships in a variety of contexts, both personal and those of others. There are four encompassing aspects of Hauora, interwoven within all the strands.

Te wairua

Involves Māori perspectives on the fundamental nature of humanity including customs, practices and protocols, Te Reo Māori, values and attitudes.

The purpose of including these aspects is to provide guidance in teaching and learning hauora in safe and positive ways, and to affrm and support unique Māori views of the world.






Wai Puna Model

Wai Puna is central to the development of the water safety Unit Plan available for kaiako in Kura Kauapapa Māori and mainstream kura, primarily for Years 1 - 8. 



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