Over 1,500 people owe their lives to the country's Surf Lifeguards after another bumper season on New Zealand's beaches.
And as the country prepares to celebrate National Volunteer Week (NVW) Surf Life Saving is taking the opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable contribution made by its members over the past summer; whether patrolling the beach, training and upskilling lifeguards or helping to keep their clubs running.
NVW, which starts today, is coordinated by Volunteering New Zealand and is celebrated annually in New Zealand during the third week of June to celebrate the vital contribution of the country's 1.2 million volunteers. This year's theme celebrates the time made by New Zealand's volunteers.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Paul Dalton says last season, 4,513 lifeguards spent over 220,000 hours on patrol (including 141,690 volunteer hours) at 80 beaches across the country. Together, they rescued 1,513 people from life-threatening situations; up 14% from 1,328 last season.
"Volunteering is a huge commitment and for many of our members, it's a lifetime commitment. They're 'in it for life.' Year after year, they make time to not only fit patrolling into their busy schedules, but hours of training and upskilling and keeping their clubs functioning, he says.
"Volunteers are the lifeblood of our charity organisation and it's important to celebrate them and the role they play in benefitting their communities and enabling Kiwis to enjoy their summers safely every year."
On top of the 1,513 rescues, lifeguards conduced 1,946 first aid treatments, 299 searches and 107,805 preventative actions which stopped people from getting to the point of needing rescue.
Each year, Surf Life Saving New Zealand awards one member the title of Lifeguard of the Year at the annual Awards of Excellence. This year's ceremony will be held in Auckland on September 24.
To find out more about Surf Life Saving New Zealand or becoming a volunteer lifeguard, please click here.
Lisa Smith, Media & Communications Specialist, SLSNZ
Phone 09 303 9335 or 0276 488 823