Former navy diver Rob Hewitt, who spent 75 hours treading water when lost at sea in 2006, leads a sea survival course for young Maori at Karitane. Photo by Gregor Richardson
Rob Hewitt knows a thing or two about sea survival, and has
been sharing his knowledge with Dunedin youth this week.
The former navy diver was lost at sea in 2006, spending 75
hours treading water before being rescued.
Since then, he has become a water safety crusader, and during
the past week has taught sea survival skills to about 75
secondary school-aged children from the wider Dunedin area.
The day skipper and sea survival courses were run as part of
Kia Maanu, Kia Ora - a partnership programme involving
ActivePost and Water Safety New Zealand.
Mr Hewitt said the training - offered throughout New Zealand
- was specific to Maori and aimed to initiate a greater
awareness of the importance of safety in relation to boating
and other ocean activities.
''Maori are water-based people ... These day skipper courses
equip participants with best practice boatmanship skills and
ensure that our people return home to their families
safely,'' he said.
Mr Hewitt spent time at Otago Boys' High School taking pupils
through the programme, before repeating the message to Maori
groups in Karitane.
Some of those taught by Mr Hewitt will have the chance to
help sail a double hull waka to Stewart Island between April
12 and May 13.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge said
Maori were consistently overrepresented in New Zealand's
''This is about engaging with a community for whom water is a
major part of its culture, and working with them to move
towards viewing safety as a key consideration,'' he said.
The programme covers boat handling, safety equipment,
navigation, tides, weather, regulations, handling emergencies
and marine knots.