Cullinane and St Mary’s water safety pilot a success


There have been 60 drowning fatalities in New Zealand already in 2023, according to Water Safety New Zealand.

The New Zealand Health and Physical Education Curriculum expects that all students will have had opportunities to learn basic aquatic skills by the end of year six. Here in Whanganui, with the awa, beaches and lakes on our doorstep, it’s no surprise that schools are keen to see tamariki receive quality and engaging water safety experiences.

Sport Whanganui Healthy Active Learning Advisor, Jen Bagshaw, has recently been involved in a pilot water safety programme with students from St Mary’s School and Cullinane College, supported by the Royal Life Saving Society NZ.

Without a school pool onsite, St Mary’s School were looking for ways to strengthen their water safety programme to better meet the needs of the students and the community. St Mary’s also indicated a desire to strengthen their connection with neighbouring feeder school, Cullinane College.
For the past four weeks the two schools have met at the Splash Centre where rangatahi (young people) from Cullinane have taken the younger St Mary’s students through a water safety programme under the guidance of Marie Baker, President of The Royal Life Saving Society NZ. Marie has been instrumental in supporting this pilot and is keen to see it grow.

“The St Mary’s and Cullinane initiative is an initiative that I would love to see expanded. The importance of learning those basic survival and water safety skills are so vital in our schools.

“I really enjoyed seeing the relationship between the older and younger students. They were so well engaged, and their confidence grew every lesson. We had some children that were very nervous and fearful to go into the water in the first session, but by the end of the programme, they had no hesitations and were gaining a lot of confidence,” says Marie.

With the pilot programme now complete, St Mary’s teacher Tash Neilson says the biggest success was watching how quickly students grew in confidence and ability.

“The fact that we could team up with Cullinane and deliver this was amazing and so important for our young tamariki. We feel lucky and proud to be part of this pilot programme and hope to continue this in the future.”

Both schools are very interested in continuing with the programme and Cullinane are now looking to include water safety and leadership into their school curriculum – a win for schools, whānau and the wider community as we are all reminded of the importance of being confident, and safe, around water this summer.

Article posted 11 September 2023 by sportwhanganui