Wai Pitomata Programme by Rick Curtin, Te Whanau O Waipareira

Rick Curtin from Te Whānau O Waipareira and Sarah Clarke from Auckland Council share some insight on a recent pilot collaboration, working with rangatahi on their swimming and water skills and exposing them to the potential in Aquatics. The Wai Pitomata programme run by Rick Curtin from Te Whānau O Waipareira saw an opportunity to partner with West Wave Pool & Leisure Centre to increase relationships within the local community that provide career opportunities including Aquatics and the wider Leisure industry, while also providing an opportunity to get active, learn swimming and water safety skills.

Lifeguarding shortages started just prior to covid and were exacerbated by the pandemic. Sarah and Rick had discussed what a partnership could look like between lockdowns, and how this could be an opportunity to bring new blood into the industry especially from a local perspective. With Rick coming from an aquatics background having been a Lifeguard Team Leader for 8 years at West Wave, he saw opportunity to not only provide important water safety and swimming skills to young Māori but a way to open doors to the leisure industry through this programme. With the assistance of Kurt Harlow, Workforce Manager Active Communities the first pilot programme ran in Term 3 at West Wave, with the hope this may be able to be applied at other sites.

Q. What is involved in the programme? Ie. what activities make up the programme.

Rick: The Wai Pitomata programme is for rangatahi Māori who are currently not in school or employed. Our participants work on community engagement, CVs, drivers licenses, interview skills and getting exposure to multiple industries.

Sarah: Rangatahi attended two 45 min swimming and water safety sessions a week facilitated by our Coach Sue, with the goal of improving their swim ability and fitness and the opportunity to hopefully pass the Lifeguard swim assessment while being exposed to the facility, environment and other staff.

Q. How many participants have been through the programme so far?

Eight rangatahi were part of the pilot programme.

Q. What has been the participant response?

Rick: We believe this pilot has been a success. In the beginning of the course all were unable to complete the 200m swim, however by the end of the course all eight were able to complete a 200m swim and core water safety skills. I am especially proud of two participants who not only succeeded in swimming the 200m but took over 3min off their times to be able to pass the Lifeguard swim tests.

Sarah: For us it has been amazing to now have two participants be interviewed for full time lifeguard positions at the facility. We all noticed a significant improvement in overall wellbeing and their personal confidence.

Q. What is the future for this programme? Ie. How do you see it developing.

Rick: My goal is to roll this out across other facilities and organisations across Tamaki Makaurau linking in with other Māori providers. Both my self and West Wave have found this a great partnership, as it combines providing much needed swimming and water safety skills to rangatahi Māori as well as an opportunity to promote Aquatics and Leisure as a career path locally.

Sarah: We look forward to seeing this programme continue and build upon the opportunities this pilot is bringing to the rangatahi in our community as well as the aquatic industry.

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