Mangawhai Heads Takes 3rd Place in bp Rescue of the Month for Rapid Off-Shore Response

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Press release

February 23, 2021

[Image: Mangawhai VLS Surf Lifeguards and an off-duty Paramedic raced to respond to a serious medical incident offshore from Mangawhai Heads beach on January 17.]

At 11:30am on January 17, 2021, Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service volunteer Surf Lifeguards were alerted to a major medical incident about 3-5 km offshore from Mangawhai Heads beach.

With nothing but a GPS heading to go by – and with a healthy ocean chop offshore – the lifeguards set out in a boat with GPS capability and room for first aid equipment. Off-duty Paramedic and Junior Surf parent, Geoff Sim, joined them on board.

The lifeguards arrived at the scene in less than 20 minutes from the time of the emergency call and found a vessel with three people on board. A nearby yacht had also responded to the mayday call and was tied to the incident vessel, motoring slowly into the chop to help minimise jostling.

The incident boat's outboard motor was partially raised out of the water and the lifeguards noticed a shirt wrapped around the propeller. When they reached the vessel they found a young man in a very serious condition with traumatic injuries to his leg.

Immediately, the team jumped into action by providing life-saving first aid, as well as pain relief. They also coordinated with the local rescue helicopter, which had arrived on scene at roughly the same time as the lifeguards.

After about five minutes, the helicopter medic was lowered onto the incident vessel and the two paramedics worked on the young man, assisted by lifeguards Mike Ardern and Andrew Mumford.

When the man was ready to be transferred, he was winched onto the helicopter and taken to Whangarei Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Coast Guard arrived on scene about 20 minutes after the lifeguards and helped to tow the boat back to Mangawhai Harbour. As the Coast Guard crossed the Mangawhai Bar, however, they called for the lifeguards again, as one of the other crew members on board the incident vessel had gone into shock. Mumford and Ardern, along with off-duty paramedic Sim responded and treated the second patient.

If not for the lifeguards’ rapid response, it’s likely that this incident could have ended in tragedy. The coordination with the rescue helicopter to help winch the young man from the vessel could have been delayed without trained personnel on scene, which could also have led to a worse outcome for the patient.

bp Head of Country NZ, Matt Elliott says bp is “incredibly proud” to have partnered with Surf Life Saving New Zealand for more than 50 years.

“Since 1968, bp has been proud to stand behind Surf Life Saving New Zealand and its Surf Lifeguards, who consistently put their amazing skills into action to keep us all safer at our beaches.”

As the third-place recipient of bp Rescue of the Month, Mangawhai Heads VLS will be recognised with $200-worth of bp gift vouchers.


  • If you see someone in trouble at the beach, let lifeguards know. If you can’t see any lifeguards, CALL 111 & ASK FOR THE POLICE. They have a direct line to both Surf Life Saving New Zealand and Coastguard.
  • Never swim, surf or fish alone.



SLSNZ is the national association representing 74 surf lifesaving clubs with 18,000+ members, including more than 4,500 volunteer Surf Lifeguards. Our lifeguards patrol over 90 locations each summer and provide emergency call-out rescue services throughout Aotearoa, saving hundreds of lives each year and ensuring thousands return home safe after a day at the beach.

We do all this as a charity and rely on the generosity of the public, commercial partners, foundations and trusts for donations and financial contributions in order to lead and support our incredible front-line volunteer lifeguarding services.

For more information, please contact:

Mackenzie Koppel

Media and Communications Manager

Surf Life Saving NZ

021 757 433