Water Safety New Zealand has launched a five-year programme to boost the swimming ability of young Maori in rural areas.
Over the past six years 22% of drownings were Maori.
Portable pools will be rotated around rural centres, catering for up to 40 students at a time based at the kura.
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge says Maori consistently rate as one of the most at-risk groups.
He says Maori males spend a lot of time in or around water gathering kai which brings risks particularly if they can't swim.
Mr Claridge says Maori children aren't being exposed to swim-and-survive lessons as they should be.
He says another factor of the high drowning rate is a lack of supervision of Maori pre-school children.