On May 10th, 2022, The Global Swim Project hosted a workshop and launch of the new Tauranga Water Safety Training Hub, located at the Toi Ohomai Aqauatic Centre, Windemere Campus.
The Hub is an answer to the challenge facing many local water safety initiatives: How do we promote water safety education without the key equipment necessary to help teach everyone how to be safer around the water? Quality lifejackets and training equipment are expensive, and often simply not accessible.
The Tauranga Water Safety Training Hub is meant to be a central point where quality equipment is accessible to Hub members. However, more than this, it is meant to be a a point for cooperation and collaboration, building a bridge between community and industry in the common interest of keeping our local community safer.
Membership to the Hub is open to all aquatic providers, community organisations, schools, local Iwi organsations and others who are based locally in the Tauranga area. There are no costs to be a member. However, members must nominate a person or people who can show they can safely run a water safety training program and properly use the equipment.
There has been talk about establishing a hub like this for years, but it was always thought to be out of reach. The two main barriers in the way were:
In 2021, The Global Swim Project took on the challenge. Global Swim is all about building bridges and breaking through barriers. This, coupled with the real need to access a wider range of sizes and equipment to support greater inclusion in water safety education, made this challenge an important one for the project.
Of course, no effort will get far without wider cooperation and support. And it was that wider support that allowed the Tauranga Water Safety Training Hub to become a reality.
It was Toi Ohomai Aquatic Centre and its manager Keith Martin that started the ball rolling by agreeing to house and look over the equipment. In fact, the Toi Ohomai Aquatic Centre is an ideal location for the Hub. The pool is specifically designed for a diverse range of aquatic training and activities, and is one of only two deepwater pools that is accessible by the public in the local area.
With the first barrier removed, the Safer Communities project of Tauranga and Western BOP stepped up to fund some of the equipment. Building on this initial win, The Global Swim Project, with support from Water Safety New Zealand, was able to apply to the Tauranga City Council Community Grant Fund. The success of that application supported the rest of the equipment to complete the Hub.
Throughout this process, Sarah Psaila, National Safe Boating Course Coordinator for Coastguard Boating Education, was there. With funding for equipment secured, Sarah offered advice and support in purchasing quality gear (mostly made in Aotearoa NZ).
The Hub now includes a full range of lifejackets from infant to adult, supporting more inclusive training and family programs that are often not possible with limited equipment. There is a sturdy inflatable boat along with required equipment to support delivery of Safer Boating. There is also additional safety equipment to support program delivery.
The Hub launch on May 10th reflected the collaborative nature of the hub, with several parties coming together to make the day a success. The day was supported by The Global Swim Project, Toi Ohomai Aquatic Centre, Coastguard Boating Education and Tauranga City Council. Those who attended the workshop represented a wide range of experience and expertise both in aquatics as well as community. It was a time to share and learn from each other, and have a bit of fun!
As a result of the successful workshop, the Tauranga Water Safety Training Hub has launched with seven initial Hub members, representing water safety and aquatic providers, community organisations and local Iwi-based organisations.
From the very beginning of this effort, the process has been true to the vision of the Hub being a point of cooperation, collaboration, building bridges and breaking barriers. The initial launch and workshop on May 10th was a celebration of this vision, and it is hoped that it sets the stage for the Hub to continue in this way.