Funding boost for Western Bay lifeguards

Waihi Beach professional lifeguards for Surf Lifesaving New Zealand, Shanae Richardson and Thomas Brown help holidaymakers Maryanne Sutherland and daughter Lucie from Hawke’s Bay.

A $10,000 funding boost for surf lifeguards on Western Bay beaches this summer has helped bridge the funding gap for weekly patrols, says Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council lifted its annual funding for the Surf Life Saving New Zealand lifeguards to $92,642, enabling 14 paid professional lifeguards to be on duty during the week at Waihi Beach, Bowentown, Maketu and Pukehina throughout the peak holiday season from December through most of January.

They are part of a national charity representing 74 Surf Lifesaving Clubs in New Zealand that patrol more than 80 locations. The additional lifeguards will patrol during the week, while weekend patrols are covered by volunteer lifeguards.

Tauranga City Council contributes $180,000 to the service on Mount Maunganui, Omanu and Papamoa beaches.

"As a nation we rely heavily on a mainly volunteer-based lifeguard service to keep people from harm. The lifeguards work through all weathers and conditions to ensure our beaches are as safe as possible,’’ says Gary.

The Council funding extends the professional mid-week lifeguard service to tie in with the volunteer weekend guards to provide full week lifeguard patrols for the public.

Eastern Regional Manager for SLSNZ, Chris Emmett, says local council funding is critical to sustain the level of service needed through the busiest time of summer.

"The Western Bay beaches are getting busier every year and we work really hard to keep our level of service high,” says Chris.

"While our lifeguards provide a lifeline for swimmers, the support from councils is a lifeline for Surf Lifesaving New Zealand. Their funding is spent almost entirely on the lifeguards’ wages. Without this support we would not be able to sustain this level of service during week days.’’

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