Whangarei lifeguards win national surf lifesaving award

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The rescue of a surfer at Ocean Beach in Whangarei has won a national surf lifesaving award.

Each month, Surf Life Saving New Zealand selects a winning rescue from each region as well as an overall national winner for the title of BP Rescue of the Month. Whangarei Heads Surf Life Saving Club has won the Northern Region BP Rescue of the Month award for February as well as being the overall national winner.

Deputy Patrol Captain John-Michael Hicks was on flag duty with newly qualified guards Breeanna Martinac, Meg Robinson and Kelena Roughan on February 14 when they were approached by some children who had found a surfboard washed in through the northern gut.

Due to the large swell, the patient was hard to spot and he was making no headway against the strong current. John-Michael ordered an Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) driver and crewman and then he entered the water with a rescue tube.

Fellow lifeguard Jess Robinson was already on her way down to the beach for a swim and, together with American exchange lifeguard John Pritchard, they assisted with the search while Meg and Kelena kept an eye on the flagged area back on the beach.

John-Michael swam out to the patient, picked him up and swam the patient further out beyond the breakers to wait for Jess and John in the IRB. The patient rested on the tube until the IRB collected him and returned him to the shore in a stable, but tired, condition.

The new and experienced lifeguards worked well together to undertake the rescue in a dangerous environment. The outcome could have been potentially tragic if lifeguards hadn't been present that day.

The club receives a $500 fuel voucher from BP to help with the financial costs of keeping communities safe in the water.

BP Managing Director Matt Elliott says the actions of the lifeguards involved in the rescue were truly admirable. "BP is proud to stand behind an organisation that truly makes a difference between life and death out there in our community."

For more information about BP Rescue of the Month visit

National winner- Whangarei Heads
Northern- Whangarei Heads
Eastern- Tolaga Bay
Central- Riversdale
Southern- St Kilda

For more information, please contact:

Lisa Honeybone, Media & Communications Specialist, SLSNZ
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823