Water Safety with Kay Berryman

We are honoured to share this beautiful kōrero from Kay Berryman of Ngāti Maniapoto and Waikato.
Mā te pā te tamaiti e whakatipu
It takes a village to raise a child

Waka Ama

Kay Berryman has five tamariki and seven mokopuna and developed a passion for paddling when her children started Waka Ama at kura. “As a parent you get in and help tautoko (support).” Kay managed and coached her tamariki in Waka Ama which further nurtured her passion for the sport. She has competed in and won regional competitions in Waka Ama and even travelled to Tahiti to compete in national tournaments.

Hine Tours

Kay runs her own Waka Ama business called Hine Tours, which is a kaupapa Māori service providing Waka Ama experiences. She recognises that indigenous people have valuable mātauranga (knowledge) and pūrākau (stories) to share and Hine Tours provides a forum for people to learn and connect with te ao Māori (Māori world view). Hine Tours also teaches paddling fundamentals including how to hold a paddle correctly, fitting a lifejacket and learning what to do if a waka (canoe) flips.


Being a Waka Ama paddler, Kay is an advocate for water safety. She states that “when you become part of the Waka Ama community, they always awhi (support), so we're always looking out for our tamariki on the water.” For Kay, a fundamental aspect of keeping safe around water is to acknowledge and learn from local Māori who understand the history, currents and temperament of the water. She also advocates for keeping children within arm’s reach when in, on or around water for a quicker response should something happen. A quicker response reduces the likelihood of drowning.

“If you love your children, you’d do everything to keep them safe.”

Top tips

  • Supervise – It’s so important that children are only in, on or around water when they are being supervised.

  • Within Arm’s Reach - Make sure your child is always adequately supervised and within arm’s reach at all times

  • Life Jackets Save Lives - Choosing the right fit for a lifejacket for yourself and your child is crucial to safety when out on the water.

  • It’s safer to choose a beach patrolled by lifeguards. Always swim between the red and yellow flags with your child.

  • If you’re able to enrol tamariki in swimming lessons, it’s a great way to help keep them safe around the water.

  • Buckets and paddling pools – Babies and toddlers can drown in less than 5cm of water. Always empty buckets and paddling pools when not in use.

  • Being Present - Avoid distractions like cellphones and be ‘in the present’ with tamariki when in, on or around water