Governor General to launch Surf Diversity Programme

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Governor General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, is set to launch Surf Life Saving Northern Region's new Surf Diversity Programme at Government House Auckland today (June 24).

The innovative Surf Diversity Programme is aimed at encouraging ethnic, Maori and Pacific youth to represent and participate in surf lifesaving around Auckland this summer and for years to come.

Twenty students, a mixture of Asian, Maori and Pacific youth will be among the first to launch and participate in the long-term programme which is based on a scholarship concept.

This programme is considered a major breakthrough in New Zealand surf lifesaving history, says Northern Region CEO Pam Elgar. "There is a strong need for more ethnic representation amongst the predominantly European face of lifesaving and this programme will help provide proactive solutions," she says.

The concept originated from long-serving Karekare lifeguard Ollie Urwin, and for the past year, Surf Life Saving Northern Region has been working closely with a project team and fellow Karekare lifeguard, Sir Bob Harvey, to launch the programme in West Auckland secondary schools.

"Last summer we presented the Surf Diversity Programme to students in four West Auckland schools and were met with great success, says Pam.

"We are confident this programme will be met with support from communities that are often overrepresented in drowning and rescue statistics."

A pre-requisite of the programme is that all of the young people applying for the scholarship are able to swim and commit to training sessions with the four Auckland Surf Life Saving Clubs who are working with the students over the next two seasons (2014/2015).

"In ten years' time, we're hoping our patrolling beaches will look more like the All Blacks with a wealth of diversity, talent and skill," says Sir Bob Harvey.

Surf Life Saving Northern Region would like to acknowledge the support of the Lottery Outdoor Safety Committee who receives their funding from the NZ Lottery Grants Board and made this programme possible.

The launch ceremony will take place at 5.30pm at Government House in Auckland and will be attended by the first intake of students, their parents, Surf Life Saving Northern Region representatives, participating Clubs and key funders.

For further information about Surf Life Saving Northern Region or the Surf Diversity Programme, please click here.

Key facts:

- As a concept, the Diversity Programme was initiated at the BP Leaders for Life leadership course in 2012
- A Diversity Project team was established comprising of Surf Life Saving Northern Region and key representatives from West Auckland Surf Life Saving Clubs
- A Diversity Programme plan was developed aimed at Year 11-13 secondary school students from a diverse ethnic background
- The Diversity Programme was presented as a Scholarship opportunity to students in four West Auckland secondary schools in October 2013 - Massey High School, Waitakere College, Kelston Girls High School and Kelston Boys High School
- Four West Auckland Clubs committed to the project and they are Muriwai Volunteer Lifeguard Service, Bethells Beach Surf Life Saving Patrol, Karekare Surf Life Saving Patrol and United North Piha Lifeguard Service
- Students submitted application forms and were selected in January 2014
- The first 20 students began training in February 2014