1 Dec 2021

Westpac NZ is reviving its focus on water safety this summer in a bid to help reduce New Zealand’s worryingly high drowning toll, especially among children.

The country has a high rate of drowning deaths compared to many other OECD countries, with 1.6 drownings per 100,000 people – 50% higher than Australia. Now back for their third summer, Rescue Rashies unzip to reveal clear CPR instructions for parents where they’re needed most, as well as teaching children water safety in a fun and interactive way. 

Westpac NZ plans to give away 1,000 Rashies to Kiwi kids around the country over the course of the summer. Designed to fit children aged 2 to 8, they’re also available for public sale from today, with 100% of the $25 purchase price going to the local rescue helicopter of the purchaser’s choice.

Westpac NZ CEO Catherine McGrath says she wants all New Zealanders to relax and unwind this summer after another big year, but to do so in a safe and responsible way.

“Exploring our fabulous coastline and waterways has always been part of a Kiwi summer, but our drowning statistics are confronting. We want to work together with New Zealanders to help change that,” Ms McGrath says.

“Water Safety New Zealand statistics show drowning is the leading cause of death during recreational activities in New Zealand, yet four out of five Kiwis would not feel confident in performing CPR.

“Our 40-year partnership with the Westpac Rescue Helicopters means help is never far away when we get in trouble. But in a rescue situation, every second counts, and knowing CPR could make the difference between life and death. That’s where we need Kiwis to get involved and take action to rapidly improve our water safety.”

 Westpac NZ Ambassador Richie McCaw is also jumping on board to help spread the message far and wide. Earlier this week, the All Black legend took part in a CPR refresher course with the Canterbury Rescue Helicopter team.

 “As a parent of two young kids, I know how crucial it is to learn the fundamentals of CPR. You never know when you might need it, and understanding the basics can keep your family and community safe,” he says.

 “I’m also regularly training and competing in adventure racing, and being able to perform CPR in an emergency gives me peace of mind that if something did go wrong out there, I’d be able to step in and help if needed.

 “The kids love getting into these Rashies. The brightly-coloured design makes them easy to keep an eye on, and the UPF50+ sun protection is an added bonus.”

To be in to win a Rescue Rashie, or to purchase one as a Christmas gift, head to westpac.co.nz/rescuerashie and check out the CPR resources available.


Editor’s note: New Zealand’s high drowning toll (Source: Water Safety NZ)

  • There were 74 drowning deaths in New Zealand in 2020, and an additional 202 hospitalisations.
  • 29 children aged between 5 and 14 were hospitalised – the highest number on record.
  • The sea was the most common place for hospitalisation incidents (37%), followed by swimming pools (21%) and rivers (17%).