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Strengthening Māori connection to wai


An ACC funded water safety programme

The ACC Kia Maanu Kia Ora (KMKO) water safety programme is a two-year pilot programme of Kaupapa Māori water safety initiatives. Fully funded by ACC, its objective is to understand how a strengthened connection to wai (water) will improve Māori water safety. The two-year programme had been managed across two periods for delivery (12 months each) commencing 1 July 2019.

Māori water recreation participation rates are high as are Māori drownings fatalities. It is proposed that a strengthened connection to wai amongst Māori will help mitigate drowning risk and improve the safe enjoyment of recreating and kai gathering in, on and around, water.

The KMKO programme uses Dr Chanel Phillips’ Wai Puna model of Māori water safety in programme delivery and evaluation. Dr Phillips’ model discusses how Māori being is grounded in their connection to wai and it is this connection which defines Māori identity, the source of being and overall hauora (health and wellbeing).

The research underpinning the Wai Puna model identified that there is a correlation between a person’s strengthened connection with wai and water safety. That is, the ripples of Wai Puna: whakapapa, mātauranga and tikanga, recognise multiple ways of knowing and being around water. This knowing provides a connection, a roundedness and holism or appreciation for water and water safety far beyond the learning of water survival skills alone.

This ACC KMKO programme comprises several kaupapa Māori and modified mainstream water safety events and programmes that have delivery aligned to, or according to, the Wai Puna model. It aims to understand better the impact of a strengthened connection to wai and water safety. In this regard delivery of the KMKO programme should allow for conclusions about how contextual cultural learnings may reduce Māori drowning to be made.

Strengthening Māori connection to wai

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