Every summer, Surf Life Saving New Zealand's volunteer lifeguards put themselves in potentially dangerous situations to help keep Kiwis safe while enjoying the beach.
In fact, over the past 10 years, lifeguards have spent over two million hours on patrol, saving over 13,700 lives.
Today marks the first day of summer and the annual Surf Life Saving Summer Appeal.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Paul Dalton says the Summer Appeal is an important time for the essential rescue service.
"Not only does the Summer Appeal allow us to celebrate the remarkable work of our lifeguards but it's a chance to raise awareness about lifesaving services in general and raise much needed funds to support the 4,500 volunteer lifeguards who will be on duty this summer," he says.
This year's appeal tagline highlights some of the key aspects of Surf Life Saving in New Zealand.
'Bravely'- while all lifeguards are highly skilled and go through rigorous training to earn their 'red and yellows' they often have to put themselves into dangerous situations in order to save others; not just on the beach, but as part of callout squads and search and rescue operations.
'Serving'- because many people don't realise that most of the lifeguards that patrol our beaches are volunteers, sacrificing their summer to protect others.
'Between the Flags'- the safest place to be at the beach.
Mr Dalton says while lifeguards are proud of the number of lives they've saved, they're most proud of the safety record between the flags.
"We may sound like a broken record but when the flags are up, that means lifeguards are on patrol and this is the safest place to swim when you're enjoying the beach."
Last season alone, Surf Lifeguards saved 1,517 people from life threatening situations and they're expecting another huge summer and an especially busy Christmas holiday period.
The safety of people on the beach is Surf Life Saving's core
business and lifeguards are an integral part of that.
"Without our volunteers, we wouldn't have a rescue service. Please show your support for our volunteers bravely serving between the flags by making a donation this summer at www.surflifesaving.org.nz."
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Manager,
Phone 0276 488 823