Phoebe Havill makes waves in the world of lifeguarding, receiving the NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year Award

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Media release

21 September 2021

Phoebe Havill makes waves in the world of lifeguarding, receiving the NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year Award

Phoebe Havill is a gifted leader and lifeguard and only the second woman to receive the prestigious NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year Award. She received this accolade at the Surf Lifesaving New Zealand (SLSNZ) 2021 National Awards of Excellence. Adding to this already impressive achievement, Phoebe also collected the DHL Instructor of the Year Award this year.

Phoebe joined the Onemana Surf Lifesaving Club when she was just five years old. She went through junior surf and the rookie programmes, working to become a qualified lifeguard at 14. Phoebe spent her summers “growing up in a supportive and encouraging surf club environment with members who just really encouraged me to give everything a go.” Now 23 years old, Phoebe is a member of both Whangamata and Onemana Surf Lifesaving Clubs. Her passion for teaching and instructing is clear, as Phoebe sees them through development programmes and helps them navigate their surf lifesaving pathways. 

Phoebe balances patrolling, club captain, committee member and instructing responsibilities between her two clubs, alongside other duties across the Eastern Region. She feels fortunate to have mentored at the National Lifeguard school last year and is recognised for her role in the Wāhine on Water programme, helping develop womens’ skills with Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs). Wāhine on Water was established three years ago by Phoebe and three other SLSNZ members. They noticed a lack of females with IRB qualifications, which are crucial to gain senior lifeguarding certifications such as a Regional Lifeguard or Patrol Captain. “A lot of females can be a bit intimidated and sometimes overlooked in the IRB space. We’re trying to change that,” explains Phoebe.

Wāhine on Water training camps, courses, and development weekends are for female surf lifesaving members of all ages and skills levels. Phoebe urges them to “come along and just give it a go.” Female IRB instructors start off teaching basic skills and allow trainees to get to know each other. Phoebe is pleased that, “People respond really well and say they enjoy the welcoming environment.” The programme has now taken off nationally, with volunteers conducting training events in their regions. Phoebe hopes the Wāhine on Water community will continue to grow and help encourage women to the IRB examiner space, which currently lacks female involveme

Also, a recipient of the SLNZ Coromandel Lifeguard of the Year Award earlier this year, Phoebe is surprised and delighted at the regional and now national recognition. She would love to see other women receive the award in the future. Phoebe thanks Onemana and Whangamata SLSC's and the broader community of Coromandel lifeguards for their constant support and for pushing her out of her comfort zone. She says, “Surf Lifesaving has given me so much more than I’ve given to it. It's an awesome thing to be a part of. I've had so many great opportunities, and I’ve met some of my best friends through this organisation. Thanks to everyone that's been a part of my journey.”