In It For Life - Matt Warren's leaving the office, but he’s not leaving his club

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Matt Warren’s time with Surf Life Saving NZ has been all about two things – the people and the cause.

He has been a volunteer with the Paekakariki Surf Lifeguards club for 35 years and has worked for the charity for the past 11 years.

On September 27 Matt will walk out of the office for the final time – but he’ll still be keeping his feet in the sand.

Matt became a volunteer Surf Lifeguard when he was 15 years old. At the time he was a competitive swimmer and when his friends signed up for surf lifesaving, he followed.

After 24 years of being a volunteer, Matt joined the paid staff picking up the role of Manager of Surf Life Saving Wellington. When the clubs across the country merged in 2009 he joined Surf Life Saving NZ.

Matt has since held the roles of Regional Programme and Services Manager, General Manager of Club Development and he’s been involved in a number of project roles.

Most recently he’s been the organisation’s Senior Executive, in charge of fundraising. “I like a good challenge. It was about making us sustainable.”

Matt says all his roles within the organisation have been about “supporting the lifeguards on the beach”.

“A highlight has been seeing the number of young people coming through the organisation – volunteers and staff – and seeing them go on to do really great things.”

Surf lifesaving has been a family affair for Matt – all four of his children joined the Paekakariki club, and three of them are still involved.

Matt might be leaving the office – but he’s not leaving his club.

“I’ll still volunteer. I will still be involved in coaching, and getting a new building for the club. Hopefully I can put a bit more back into the region.”

He’ll also continue to run Oceans’ 20, a premier Under 14 Surf Life Saving event.

Matt’s still got plenty to keep him busy outside of club life – he and his wife Karen have bought a property management franchise and they will continue to run canoe races.

“For me it’s been all about the people and the cause. It’s been really good to have a part in that and make sure the lifeguards can do their thing. I’m really proud of my time.”

Chief Executive Officer Paul Dalton says Matt typifies Surf Life Saving NZ’s ‘In it For Life’ philosophy.

“His commitment to the organisation has been outstanding – he has coped amazingly with the ups, downs and ups again of the last 11 years.  And not to forget at least four CEO’s and multiple restructures.”

Paul says Matt’s versatility has always come to the fore – taking on all sorts of roles that require a very wide knowledge base and skill set.

“He has been a rock for the national office – always taking on with enthusiasm things that are in the too hard basket for everyone else, like the new IT project and fundraising. And getting the job done.

“His time here has given him the ‘Jack of all trades’ experience that is a natural fit for taking on his own business. It’s great to see Matt take that next step and best wishes to him and Karen for their new adventure.”