Maori are deeply connected to the ocean. Yet, Maori have alarming rates of drowning within the ocean environment. Although Maori comprise approximately 15% of New Zealand’s population, Maori account for 22% of the national drowning statistics (Water Safety New Zealand, 2015; Haimona & Takurua, 2007). There is very little published research that examines why Maori have high rates of drowning despite a cultural connection to water. This doctoral research will investigate the health connection of Maori to the ocean, rivers and lakes and highlight whether the health connection contributes to Maori drowning rates. I will employ kaupapa Maori theory and critical discourse analysis to frame the research. Methods of study include: semi-structured interviews, hui (group interviews), wananga korero (wananga interviews), reflective piece and two case studies in Hawkes Bay and Otago.