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GAAAP (Greater Auckland Aquatic Action Plan) is a collaborative project that coordinates 8-10 professionally delivered Water Skills for Life lessons to primary school children in the greater Auckland region, ensuring the development of fundamental water skills for life.

It is targeted towards low decile schools (1-6) and Year 3-6 students (7-10 year olds). GAAAP delivers approximately 153,000 lessons per year to 21,000 students, covering 147 decile 1-6 schools. To view the project's progress to date click here.

The project also has a professional development focus for teachers and swim instructors to help them develop the knowledge to deliver water safety education in the pool and classroom. To view what professional development opportuinities are avaliable click here.

GAAAP is managed by Aktive - Auckland Sport & Recreation in partnership with Water Safety NZ. Regional coordination is undertaken by Auckland’s 4 Regional Sports Trusts. GAAAP is funded by Sport NZ (Kiwisport), Foundation North & Water Safety NZ.

What Our Children Learn

Traditionally, there has been a focus on learn to swim programmes in New Zealand. The assumption has been that if you learn to swim, you have the necessary basic skills to survive in the water. Research papers, surveys, practical evidence from other parts of the world as well as advice from New Zealand water safety sector experts indicated that the acquisition of a combination of water safety and swimming skills resulted in a reduction in young children drowning.

Based on this evidence, Water Safety NZ (WSNZ) found that there is a need for a greater emphasis on teaching water safety skills prior to stroke and distance focused swimming skills, and that offering exposure to a range of aquatic environments (such as rivers and cold open water where most New Zealand drownings occur) is a crucial part of water safety skills learning. WSNZ also identified that there is a need to establish a more consistent national approach to the teaching of water safety skills.

In the current year, Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) is rolling out a new approach to teaching young New Zealanders water safety: Water Skills for Life. WSNZ developed Water Skills for Life to teach 5 – 13-year-old Kiwis the skills they need to help keep themselves safe in, on and around water. The new skills are the building blocks for the safe enjoyment of the many aquatic pursuits our country has to offer and are also the essential basis for participating in all aquatic sports. GAAAP has been working with WSNZ, Swimming NZ and providers to roll out the competencies across all GAAAP Schools.

Why is This Important?

Water safety continues to be a critical issue for New Zealand. Drowning is the fourth highest cause of accidental death in New Zealand and drowning related hospitalisations have been increasing year on year for over a decade

Sadly, our Maori & Pacific Island communities and 5-13 year olds are over-represented in drowning statistics. We want our children to be better prepared and able to safely enjoy the water whether in their homes, in pools, at the beach, rivers or lakes, or while enjoying boating and other water based recreational activities. Swim & Survive skills are essential for our children, especially with Auckland being surrounded by water.

How We Measure Results

All children/schools that participate in the programme are recorded on a national database that reports on impact and swim achievement outcomes. Baseline and progression data is recorded during a students' first and last lesson and is monitored throughout their GAAAP journey. Data is uploaded and a series of reports are used to analyse in greater detail the swim skill ability of each individual child, class, school and region (Auckland, Harbour, Waitakere and Counties Manukau). Collectively, Aktive reports on the Greater Auckland region.

Want to Become Involved

Contact the programme coordinator in your region or the programme manager and they’ll be able to provide you with additional information on how to become involved. GAAAP targets primary schools in decile 1 to 6 and children in years 3 to 6. Lessons are delivered by qualified, trained swim instructors in either a school, council, community, portable or private pool facility.


Aktive - Auckland Sport & Recreation
Jacqui Johnston - Project Manager

Find Your Field Of Dreams
Mike Ibbertson

Sport Waitakere
Pauline Butt

Sport Auckland
Georgina Gatenby

Lynn Cartwright

Harbour Sport
Jenny Lim

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