New Generation of Surf Lifeguards Upskill to Save Lives

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Press release

February 18, 2021

Sixteen up-and-coming Surf Lifeguards gained vital life-saving skills last month in Tairāwhiti at the annual Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) Eastern Region Zespri Intermediate Lifeguard School (ILS).

The goal of the Zespri ILS is to provide Junior Surf Lifeguards with skills, knowledge and further understanding so that they are better prepared to keep beachgoers safe. The school is a dynamic combination of theory and practical sessions designed to enhance candidates’ ability to respond in a variety of situations.

This year’s Eastern Region Zespri ILS was held at Uawa-Tolaga Bay over the weekend of January 22-24. Candidates aged 15+  honed important life-saving skills such as rock rescue techniques, safety procedures when working around helicopters, knowledge of how to request support from external agencies, tube rescue skills and more.

In true east coast style, this year’s school incorporated the surrounding landmarks of Tolaga Bay to develop skills and promote confidence in the up-and-coming Surf Lifeguards. The full-immersion style camp resulted in powerful new friendships and camaraderie.

Zoe Rive, a member at Pukehina Surf Life Saving Club, was awarded Top Candidate after demonstrating teamwork, courage, skills-development and resilience throughout the weekend. 

“I was really nervous about coming to the camp as I came on my own and didn’t know anyone,” she says.

“My highlight was definitely the Rock Rescue Training. I’d never done any rock work before and was quite nervous but I learned heaps and it was so much fun.”

Along with Rive from Pukehina SLSC, Surf Lifeguards from six other clubs across the Bay of Plenty and Tairāwhiti-Gisborne took part in the weekend-long training. All candidates were under the instruction and mentorship of some of the region’s top Instructors and Surf Lifeguards.

Michael Fox, Zespri’s Director of External Relations, says Zespri is proud to support the development of Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s young leaders.  

“Surf lifeguards play an incredibly important role in our communities, helping to keep us and our families safe when we’re in the water. 

“They work and train hard to ensure they’re ready to help, so Zespri is really pleased to be able to support them as part of our efforts to help our communities to thrive.

“Surf Lifesaving New Zealand helps ensure our young people are healthy and developing new skills and the Zespri Intermediate Lifeguard School is a great way to inspire up-and-coming surf lifeguards and to promote beach safety,” says Mr Fox. 

SLSNZ Eastern Region Manager, Chase Cahalane, says the Zespri IGS is an important link in the development of younger Surf Lifeguards.

“This incredible training opportunity empowers young lifeguards by building upon their baseline lifesaving skills, introducing them to the broader pathways within the organisation, and helping to foster new life-long relationships with lifesaving colleagues from across the region,” says Cahalane.

“Our volunteer lifeguards are exceptionally skilled people that give countless hours to safeguarding the coastline. Zespri recognise the selfless contribution of these incredible people, and further increases their capabilities.”

2021 SLSNZ Eastern Region Intermediate Lifeguard School Candidates by club:

  • Stella Perano | Midway SLSC
  • Charlotte Webb | Mount Maunganui LS
  • Eleanor Gilbert | Mount Maunganui LS
  • Quinn Rimmer | Mount Maunganui LS
  • Azrael Cabusao | Omanu SLSC
  • Harrison (Harry) Beattie | Papamoa SLSC
  • Zoe Rive | Pukehina SLSC
  • Chloe Poulter | Waihi Beach LS
  • Neo Stuart | Waikanae SLSC
  • Jason McMillan | Waikanae SLSC
  • Bella Fitzharris-Stevens | Waikanae SLSC
  • Theo Weatherley | Wainui SLSC
  • Ruby Lobb | Wainui SLSC
  • Chris Tilghman | Wainui SLSC
  • Zephaniah Jackson | Wainui SLSC
  • Ella Whibley | SLSCWainui

Mentors by club:

  • Kevin Weatherley | Wainui SLSC
  • Luke Whibley | Wainui
  • Rubi Perano | Midway SLSC
  • Ella Van Kretgern | Waikanae SLSC

Instructors by club:

  • Tyler Nitschke | Omanu Beach SLSC
  • Tyler Ranger | Whangamata SLSC
  • Andrew Shelton | Waikanae SLSC
  • Sam Reeder | Mount Maunganui LS

Full information regarding the Intermediate Lifeguard School can be found on the SLSNZ website here.



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 & Communications Manager

Surf Life Saving New Zealand

021 757 433