The signature red and yellow patrol flags are iconic to the Kiwi summer and Surf Lifeguards are calling on the public to help keep them there.
The annual Surf Life Saving summer campaign begins today and piggy-backs off the current New Zealand flag referendum.
The appeal calls for people to back the red and yellow surf lifesaving flags this summer by making a donation to help keep volunteer lifeguards on patrol.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Paul Dalton says we see this as a unique opportunity to get noticed while the flag debate is topical.
"There have been some polarising opinions when it comes to the New Zealand flag debate but I'm pretty sure that, if given the option, New Zealanders would feel unanimous about keeping the patrol flags out on New Zealand's beaches this summer. But this comes at a cost. Despite being a volunteer-based organisation, there are still substantial costs when it comes to training and equipping our lifeguards," he says.
Mr Dalton says the signature red and yellow patrol flags are a common sight on our beaches and most people expect to see lifeguards when they visit New Zealand's favourite playground. "But what if they weren't there? he says.
"New Zealand's drowning toll is alarmingly high and we can't afford to take lifeguards off our beaches but that's a reality that we face as a charity, he says.
"Please show your appreciation for our volunteer lifeguards and make a donation during the summer so we can be there for you and your family when you need us."
Donations can be made by texting FLAGS to 849 to automatically donate $3 or click here to make an online donation.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand is an essential rescue service as well as a charity that relies on the support of the community and its partners to continue its work of keeping Kiwis safe on our beaches every season.
This summer, volunteer lifeguards will spend over 200,000 hours keeping a watchful eye on over 80 beaches throughout the country. During an average summer, around 1,200 people are rescued from life threatening situations. Last year, that number was 1,328.
While swimming between the flags is a well-known message, Surf Life Saving New Zealand also encourages people to adhere to a few simple rules; be prepared, watch out for yourself and others, be aware of the dangers and know your limits.
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Specialist,
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823