Academic and water safety campaigner honoured

19 January 2015

Faculty of Education academic Dr Kevin Moran has received two awards, both recognising his dedication to water safety.

He has been made Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to water safety in the New Year’s Honours list, and he has been awarded the 2014 Ireland Medal by Ireland’s Lifesaving Foundation in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the saving of lives from drowning.

The Lifesaving Foundation’s Ireland Medal is “awarded to an Irish person or organisation or to a person of Irish descent in recognition of an exceptional contribution to saving lives from drowning.”

Kevin’s award was announced at The Lifesaving Foundation’s 2014 Drowning Prevention and Rescue Conference he was attending in Dublin.

Kevin, a Principal Lecturer in Health and Physical Education in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education is the 12th Ireland Medal recipient and is the first from New Zealand.

Despite his initial shock he is now thrilled to have been chosen to receive the award.

“I have spent the majority of my life either competing on the water, or working as a lifesaver saving others and educating about water safety. It’s great to have that acknowledged and awarded by my peers.”

The Lifesaving Foundation citation recognised Kevin’s long outstanding leadership and dedication to water safety and lifesaving involving his membership of International Life Saving’s Research and Information Committee; Co-chairing the International Task Force on Open Water Drowning Prevention; he was a founding member of both the New Zealand Drowning Prevention Council and WaterSafe Auckland, which he chaired for a number of years. He has been a frontline surf lifeguard for 50 years, first patrolling in Wales and then on Auckland’s west coast at Muriwai Beach.

Kevin’s work has created a change in strategy of drowning prevention in New Zealand.

He has also been instrumental in researching the “Aquatic Victim Instead of Rescuer Syndrome” or AVIR, and the promotion of the Four Rs of bystander rescue - Recognise, Respond, Rescue and Revive.

Cases of AVIR are tragically highlighted every summer and include the drowning of a 36-year-old in the Patea River near Taranaki on New Year's Day, after rescuing his niece and two daughters from the water.

“As has been clearly indicated this summer in the media, drowning in open water locations such as beaches involves the ‘twin towers’ of drowning risk, the over estimation of ability, and underestimation of risk. As in other walks of life, males are especially susceptible to both, a fact readily identified in national drowning statistics where 80% of victims are male.”    

Kevin was a successful freestyle sprint competitive swimmer representing Wales in three Commonwealth Games (Kingston, Jamaica, 1966; Edinburgh, Scotland, 1970; Christchurch, New Zealand, 1974). He moved to New Zealand in 1974.

Kevin is described by WaterSafe Auckland as an active academic with a lifelong interest in surf life-saving and unique in his field in that he has critiqued, written and revised various national water safety and swimming programmes.

He is the author of two books on water safety and drowning prevention, has published 50-plus papers in international journals, and presented 60-plus papers at more than 20 international conferences in the last decade. His recent research includes rock-based fisher water safety, defining swimming competency, toddler and parent water safety, and adolescent surf safety knowledge and risk perceptions.

His recent publications include studies on toddler parent perceptions of CPR and drowning prevention, parental supervision of children at beaches, lifeguard CPR knowledge and beliefs, rock fisher water safety, defining swimming ability in the context of drowning prevention, and high risk behaviours among youth around water.

Media Contact: Anna Kellett, Media Relations Advisor