Last year more than 3000 kids from around the region were able to grow their competency in the water thanks to the Swim for Life Tairāwhiti (SFLT) programme.

The not-for-profit organisation was formed eight years ago to address the decline in children's swimming ability and help our region work towards a consistent record of no drowning.

Trust Tairāwhiti supported SFLT with $90k over three years to deliver their programme to local primary schools.

Every participating student receives ten lessons from an accredited provider each year they are involved. SFLT has had about 3200 students from across the region this year.

The initiative first came about in Tairāwhiti about 12 years ago through a Water Safety New Zealand programme with a small group of schools.

When the funding for those lessons ceased, a local group decided it was too beneficial for the region to lose, and SFLT was born.

It is entirely locally owned and operated, managed by Carl Newman and a governing board. They're supported by a group of passionate swim instructors who receive ongoing professional development to ensure all kids receive a quality programme in schools.

"We know one of the biggest challenges is parent's availability and fitting in time for lessons, which is why we do it directly through the schools. Taking away the barriers around time and cost makes it accessible for all families," Carl says.

"The beauty of having a local programme is that it's tailored for our communities. Water is everywhere in Tairāwhiti, and it is so important our kids have the fundamental skills so they can feel safe and confident in the water."

Read more from our Annual Report
Horahia Te Tau - Annual Report 2022/23