Allison is a digital reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times

205 rescued in 'quiet' season at Bay beaches

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Shaun Smith, club captain for Papamoa surf club, said preventative measures helped keep people safe.
Shaun Smith, club captain for Papamoa surf club, said preventative measures helped keep people safe.

Bay lifeguards rescued more than 200 beachgoers over a relatively quiet summer season.

For almost all the surf lifesaving clubs from Mount Maunganui to Pukehina the number of rescues went down considerably compared to the record-breaking 2014/15 summer season which saw 303 rescues performed.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand statistics showed there were 205 rescues for the 2015/16 summer season.

Mount Maunganui recorded 83 rescues compared with 105 rescues last summer. There were 59 rescues at Omanu compared with 84 last year.

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Papamoa had the lowest number of rescues, 13 in all, almost four times less than last patrol season where 50 rescues were performed.

There were 16 rescues at Waihi beach, and 15 at Pukehina.

Maketu bucked the trend, with 19 rescues this summer compared with just four rescues in the 2014/15 season.

Papamoa Surf Life Saving club captain Shaun Smith said the decrease in rescues could be attributed to preventative actions and better conditions.

"We got down on the beach and talked to the public, advising them the best place to swim and if possible to get down to the flag area."

He said it there had been quite different surf conditions to the previous season, not as many rips and currents.

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"It was a much quieter beach and a pretty quiet season for Papamoa," Mr Smith said.

The only after-hours call out they received was for Hamish Rieger, a local 17-year-old and surf lifesaver, who was swept off the rocks on Moturiki (Leisure) Island in January.

Mr Smith said it would be interesting to see what happened in the future because of the growing population in Papamoa.

He thought the 130 to 140 volunteers had done a fantastic job this year.

"It's pretty amazing you get 14-year-olds giving up their weekends to take care of Joe Public."

Maketu surf club chairman Mike Hickson said the sea conditions contributed to the huge increase in rescues, with one "particularly nasty" day resulting in seven rescues.

He thought the good weather and the new motorway had something to do with the increase, as they brought more people down to Maketu beach.

"We also did more hours this year. We probably did an extra couple hundred hours in total."

The club began the season with 14 lifeguards, which was whittled down to 10 by the end of the summer.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand chief executive Paul Dalton said volunteers were "the lifeblood" of surf lifesaving.

"Volunteering is a huge commitment and for many of our members, it's a lifetime commitment. They're 'in it for life'."

Throughout New Zealand lifeguards rescued 1513 people from life-threatening situation, up 14 per cent from last season.

Stats for 2015/16 summer season:

* Mount Maunganui: 83 rescues, 125 first aids, 14 searches, 2188 preventative actions

* Omanu: 59 rescues, 57 first aids, 12 searches, 3500 preventative actions

* Papamoa: 13 rescues, 36 first aids, 4 searches, 1557 preventative actions

* Waihi Beach: 16 rescues, 94 first aids, 8 searches, 2741 preventative actions

* Pukehina: 15 rescues, 17 first aids, 3 searches, 1403 preventative actions

* Maketu: 19 rescues, 11 first aids, 0 searches, 553 preventative actions

- Surf Life Saving New Zealand

- Bay of Plenty Times

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