Surf Life Saving NZ celebrates 700 people rescued, and marks Volunteer Week 2019

Sunday, 16 June 2019


Surf lifeguards are celebrating 700 people rescued from life-threatening situations during the 2018/19 year – that’s a group of people who might not have made it home, who would make up about 10 percent of a town like Thames, Otaki or Lincoln.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand is proud our people were there when they were needed, with the right skills and equipment to make a difference, says Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s Lifesaving Manager Allan Mundy.

“The organisation relies on donations, and all Surf Life Saving NZ lifeguards are volunteers, backed up by a huge team of volunteer club members. So we are saying a massive thanks to them this Volunteer Week”, he says. (Volunteer Week runs from June 16 – 22).

The Surf Life Saving NZ year runs from July 1 to June 30. During the 2018/2019 year provisional figures show our lifeguards assisted 1,619 people to safety from dangerous situations, took part in 418 searches, provided first aid 2,573 times, and took preventative action to keep people safe on the beach 118,100 times.

This season’s rescues have included shepherding stranded kayakers through a surf-battered sea-cave, the rescue of the crew of the yacht Mazurka during a fierce storm, providing first aid for major trauma until ambulances could reach a remote community, working under the lights of a rescue helicopter in cold dark seas to pick up a man, woman and child floating after their boat sunk, rescuing and providing first aid to a man who had a heart attack in the surf and a man who suffered a spinal injury in the surf, and many, many rescues of people who were being pulled out to sea in strong rip currents they could not escape from.

“Saving 700 people is no small feat, a lot has gone into that. It’s satisfying to know that those people are going home safe to their families and communities because of the service our members provide,” Mundy says. 

“And we know there are many other people on the beaches whose lives we touch.”

Nationwide, Surf Life Saving NZ has 18,832 members, including 4,640 lifeguards at 74 clubs from Invercargill to the far north of the North Island. This year lifeguards carried out 237,255 patrol hours throughout New Zealand.

“Our lifeguards are a group of incredibly dedicated and talented people, who are there to keep an eye out at the beach during the busy beach-going weather in the warmer half of the year, but then also train through the winter, and go out into the storms, and cold and rain when they are needed, too,” says Mundy.

“Behind the scenes there is another small army of incredible club members who are putting in their own time to make sure our equipment runs smoothly, to train our lifeguards and run our junior Nippers programmes, to apply for funding, run surf sports, and generally put in the hard work to run our clubs. They’re often helping out at the club on weekends and public holidays, when the rest of the community is taking time off.

“I have no problem saying everyone who puts in their own time volunteering and working to keep beachgoers safe is a hero in their own right,” he says.   

** Figures provided are the national totals for the SLSNZ year to June 12. The final figures are expected to change very little.

File photos for Surf Life Saving NZ can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Allan Mundy, National Lifesaving Manager
Phone: 027 245 2660; Email:

Surf Life Saving NZ media and communications
Phone: 021 636 647; Email: