Bay of Plenty school children will continue to receive water safety lessons, thanks to a $70,000 grant from BayTrust.

The grant will be used by Water Safety New Zealand to deliver its Water Skills for Life programme to primary and intermediate schools in Rotorua and the wider Bay of Plenty region.

Drowning is New Zealand's third-highest cause of accidental death, with 66 people killed in preventable drowning incidents last year. Ten of those deaths were in the Bay of Plenty.

Water Skills for Life aims to reduce New Zealand's drowning rate by teaching children proper water safety skills.

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Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills. Photo / Supplied
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills. Photo / Supplied

Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Jonty Mills said the funding was "critical" for the organisation to reach as many children as possible.

"The social and economic cost of drowning far outweighs funding to the water safety sector," Mills said.

"Without the trust's support we would not be able to have the maximum opportunity to reduce the number of drownings and hospitalisations in Bay of Plenty."

The grant from BayTrust will be used to run workshops for teachers, who will then teach students in their school or community pool. Part of the grant will be used to run refresher courses for teachers who have already undergone training.

BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said it was important to make sure cost was not a barrier to Bay of Plenty children accessing Water Skills for Life, as water survival skills enabled everyone to enjoy the Bay's natural environment.

"We know cost and access to a facility are barriers that some schools face when trying to deliver aquatic education," Rhodes said.

"We hope this funding will allow Water Safety New Zealand to continue the fantastic work they're doing to give our tamariki the real-world skills they need to stay safe while they're in, on or around water."