Maritime NZ announces safer boating funding for 2023

09 August 2023

Maritime NZ has announced recipients of its annual Community Grant funding for safety programmes to help reduce fatalities and injuries to people out on the water in recreational craft.

In total, 21 projects and initiatives around the country will share $876,680 worth of funding. In 2022, 24 projects shared $853,000.

In 2022 there were 17 deaths (spread across 16 incidents) related to recreational craft. The number of fatalities has remained relatively consistent over the last decade, despite significant efforts from recreational craft safety-focussed organisations.

For Maritime NZ Director, Kirstie Hewlett, these fatalities and the substantial number of preventable harm incidents are of significant concern for her and the rest of Maritime NZ. 

“With nearly two million people in New Zealand undertaking activities on the water, we know it is very important to get the right safety messages out to a wide range of people, from different backgrounds, all over Aotearoa.

“At Maritime NZ, we will be looking for opportunities to promote the work of other organisations to reduce harm, and are keen to see collaborative approaches to safety across the sector.

“No one organisation has the answer or the ability to reach everyone. This is why it is important to work together to increase water users' knowledge on how to be safe on the water, and ultimately bring down instances of harm.

A key part of the funding allocation decision was looking at how to reach at-risk groups.

“There are several initiatives that are targeted to supporting different ethnic groups, including Pasifika, Asian and Māori communities.

“Across New Zealand, we know there are differing levels of safety knowledge, safety equipment owned by water users and language barriers for some communities. It is hugely important we keep up our previous momentum with supporting these communities and have them prioritising safety.

“Everyone should go home safely from a day out on the water.

“It is vital water users understand the rules and know how to keep themselves safe,” Ms Hewlett says.

The funding is split across local and national initiatives, with recipients located all around New Zealand. 

Among the initiatives that have secured funding are Coastguard’s Old4New lifejacket upgrade programme, which includes Second Life Lifejackets and received $100,000; Northland Regional Council’s Nobody’s Stronger Than Tangaroa campaign, which received $85,000; and $70,000 for Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Kia marutau ki te wai and Safety is Our Wai scheme.

Beneficiary organisations include the Kayak Association of Sea Kayakers, Watersafe Auckland (Drowning Prevention Auckland), New Zealand Stand Up Paddling, Jet Boating NZ, and several regional councils.


A key purpose of the fund is to support campaigns and collaboration led by the members of New Zealand’s Safer Boating Forum, a coalition of organisations dedicated to improving safety in the recreational boating sector.


Successful recipients

Council / Organisation


Funding Approved

Bay of Plenty Regional Council
Jon Jon Peters

Safety is our Wai & Kia marutau ki te wai
Continuation of on-water safety programme to  Harbour & Lakes and safer boating education and resources specifically to local Iwi and Hapū


Coastguard New Zealand Tautiaki Moana Aotearoa

Daisy Docherty

Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade Programme including Second Life Lifejackets and Ngā Hue ō Hinemoa

Continuation of the Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade campaign offering heavily discounted lifejackets and PFD’s to those who upgrade their old or damaged lifejackets across NZ and  providing new life jackets for at-risk communities Continuation of an existing programme to educate Pasifika boaties to be more knowledgeable and safer skippers.


Environment Canterbury

Gordon McKay

Canterbury Safe Boating Programme

Continuation of programme to educate safer boating and providing an Enforcement Officer to specialise in educating the jet boat sector.


Environment Southland
Zak Smith

Environment Southland Boating Safety Program
Continuation of existing programme to deliver consistent boating safety education to recreational boating operators on water and on boat ramps.


Gisborne District Council
Peter Buell

Tairāwhiti Haumaru Moana
Continuation of  promoting safer boating throughout the region


Greater Wellington Regional Council
Grant Nalder

Do you know what you need to?
To deliver nationally consistent safe boating messages and the aim is to make this relevant and available to a wide demographic through direct contact with a range of boaties.


Hawke's Bay Regional Council
Adrian Wright 

Tamariki and Pakeke Boating Safety Programme
Continuation of education program of delivering Safer Boating Education to local iwi and running a “Suddenly in Charge Course” at boating clubs around the region


Jet Boating New Zealand Inc.

Stephen Woodside

Jet Smart – Safer Jet Boating
Continuation to produce a series of Jet Smart – Safer Jet Boating videos that contain safety messages focusing on river navigation.


Kayak Association of Sea Kayakers (KASK)
Steve Cooper

KayakSafe NZ
Continuation of delivery of key kayaking safety messages through a variety of channels.


Marlborough District Council

Brittany Hamilton

Safer Boating Roadshow Marlborough – bringing boating safety to you!
Visiting remote areas and promote safer boating behaviour. 


Nelson City Council
Stuart Whitehouse

Maritime Safety Internship
Increasing safety education and compliance for Nelson waters


Nelson City Council
Stuart Whitehouse

Sup on water educational programme
Continuation of programme to educate SUP users on safety and help develop skills about informed decision making in dynamic environments.


New Zealand Stand Up Paddling Inc.  (NZSUP)
Bill Dawes

Continuation of campaign targeted at stand up paddle boarders to increase safety behaviours. 


Northland Regional Council
Peter Thomas

Nobody’s stronger then Tangaroa
Continuation of engaging with remote communities with specific messaging and face to face engagement


Queenstown Lakes District Council
Isabelle Logez

QLDC Waterways Skipper Responsibility Campaign
Increased public messaging to promote skipper responsibility of waterways within region, which solely comprises of inland waterways – rivers and lakes.


Royal New Zealand Coastguard

Marilyn Brady

Ko Tangata Moana

To deliver safer boating courses to Maori, Pasifika and Asian communities


Waikato Regional Council
Chris Bredenbeck

Operation Neptune
Continuation of on-water education with three primary tactics education, engagement and enforcement while delivering safety messages


Waka Ama NZ
Lara Collins

Waka Ama Water Safety
Continuation of delivery of the CBE Waka Ama Safety Course to all waka ama paddlers around Aotearoa. 


Watersafe Auckland Inc.(Drowning Prevention Auckland)
Nicola Keen-Biggelaar

WaiWise for the Pacific, Asian and Indian communities
Continuation of programme to provide specific drowning prevention education for the three at-risk communities in Tāmaki Makaurau.


Watersafe Auckland Inc.(Drowning Prevention Auckland)
Nicola Keen-Biggelaar

Supporting growth in use of Lifejacket Hubs for drowning prevention education
Continuation to provide hubs where people can access lifejackets and support growing awareness of these hubs.


Yachting New Zealand
Raynor Haagh

Yachting New Zealand’s sailing experience RŪNĀ

Continuation of the RŪNĀ framework to encourage a wider and more diverse range of students to connect with sailing both inside and outside the classroom  






Note to editors

  • All of Maritime New Zealand’s recreational boating work is funded through fuel excise duty on petrol (about $5.4 million). This is from contributions to the tax boaties make when refuelling their boats. A portion of this funding is used to support the Community Grants programme
  • Maritime NZ also provides funding to a range of Councils around the country to support on-water compliance. Funding for ‘No Excuses’ and on-water compliance initiatives will not come out of community grants funding. Instead they will be supported from the on-water compliance funding budget.
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