News Item

Water safety for children in Niue

News 7 Nov 2019

Some of Niue's youngest citizens will be the focus of a new community education initiative being delivered through the Pacific Maritime Safety Programme (PMSP).

A water safety programme is being launched for Niue Primary School students as a way to teach life-long water safety skills and instill a strong maritime safety culture in Niue children.

The Water Skills For Life (WSFL) programme was developed by Water Safety New Zealand for children in Years 1 - 8 and is delivered in New Zealand schools by Swimming NZ. Based on 27 core skills, it establishes fundamental competencies for life-long water safety.

Lessons are delivered both in the classroom and in the water. The New Zealand High Commission in Niue has made its pool available for the lessons.

High Commissioner Kirk Yates said he welcomed the opportunity to support the initiative.

"We are looking forward to supporting the teachers and families of these children as they learn these important skills. Niue is a beautiful country but its coast can be very unforgiving. The pool will provide a safe environment for young children to learn the basic skills of water safety."

Maritime NZ delivers the PMSP, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade programme, funded by New Zealand Aid. Maritime NZ has partnered with Swimming NZ to support the WSFL programme in Niue.

Swimming NZ spokesperson Chris Morgan said the WSFL programme was being adapted for Niue to have a greater emphasis on hazards and risks in natural environments, safety around boats and canoes and survival techniques in open water.

"Ultimately this programme will be delivered by Niue teachers for Niue children. My role is to train the teachers and help them tailor our foundation programme to suit their environment and their children."

"We know Niue children spend a lot of time in the sea already - we want to help keep them safe and ensure they grow up with a really strong understanding of how to keep themselves safe in and on the water, we are helping them invest in their future."

Niue Primary School Principal Carol Edwards said the school was delighted to launch the programme.

"Niue's maritime safety motto is "safety at sea means always getting home". In a country where so many of us spend time each day working on or around the sea, this message strikes at the heart of why it is so important we ensure our children have the best possible water safety knowledge and skills.

"We are particularly grateful to our teachers for the time and dedication they are putting into this vital project."

The pilot programme will run at Niue Primary School throughout Term 4 and extend to Niue High School next year.

Image: Lucy Makaea of Niue who is the world youth champion in surf lifesaving. Photo by Jamie Troughton of Dscribe Media.