The men and women who patrol Bay of Plenty's surf beaches were formally honoured for their efforts this weekend with Papamoa's Shaun Smith being crowned Lifeguard of the Year.
Mr Smith was also named Club Captain of the Year at the Surf Lifesaving New Zealand regional awards on Saturday night. Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service was named Club of the Year.
"It was pretty special. It was pretty awesome," Mr Smith said of his win.
The award formally recognised an outstanding contribution to the delivery and development of drowning prevention services for the organisation and is aimed at active surf lifeguards.
I'm just honoured to have won our local awards in front of our local guys.
The win automatically makes the Papamoa Surf Lifesaving Club captain a finalist in the national awards in Auckland in September.
Mr Smith has won Lifeguard of the Year before, both regionally and nationally. He said he hoped history could repeat itself but was doubtful.
"There are some really good young men and ladies in the running a lot more likely to win than me," he said.
"I'm just honoured to have won our local awards in front of our local guys."
Mr Smith paid tribute to his club and most importantly his wife Jenny.
"Without my wife I couldn't have won this," he said.
"She has put up with a lot. I spend most of my life at the club. Having a supportive family is really important. I'm here every weekend through summer. It's like the saying 'you're in it for life' because you are really."
Mr Smith said his sons Nathan and Paul were also a big part of the club.
"They've been coming here since they were (babies) in my backpack. They treat it as a second home. It's a big family, it's not just lifeguarding." he said.
Next year will be Mr Smith's 40th as a lifeguard. When he is not at the Papamoa club working, he is often helping with water training at events including the annual Ironman at Lake Taupo.
The one thing that kept him going was the young people he worked with, he said.
There were many examples of young lifeguards growing up and achieving high powered jobs with help from skills they gained while being part of the club, Mr Smith said.
"Sometimes you do get sick of it but when you see the end results, the kids coming through, that's what makes it."
Club and member development manager for the Eastern Region Chaz Gibbons-Campbell said Mr Smith was a great lifeguard with years of experience under his belt.
"He is heavily involved with numerous aspects of surf lifesaving within the club and region. He acted as a patrol captain and completed over 100 hours on patrol during the season. As head of the Papamoa Callout Squad, he has also been involved in five search and rescue operations," Mr Gibbons-Campbell said.
"Shaun is highly regarded, leads by example and is always encouraging the development and involvement of his fellow surf lifeguards, both young and old."
Volunteer of the Year for the Bay of Plenty was awarded to Donal Boyle from Omanu Beach Surf Life Saving Club.
Other awards included the Harrison Mundy Memorial Scholarship Award (established last year) which was presented to the Eastern Region's top Rookie, Ella Higgins from Waihi Beach.
Bay of Plenty lifesaving awards
Pacific Medicare Lifeguard of the Year: Shaun Smith, Papamoa
Patrol Captain of the Year: Shaun Smith, Papamoa
Instructor of the Year: Garry King, Mount Maunganui
Examiner of the Year: Danielle Shepherd, Mount Maunganui
Volunteer of the Year: Donal Boyle, Omanu Beach
Rescue of the Year: Whakatane SLSC, 7th December 2015
Pacific Medicare Patrol Club of the Year: Maketu
Zespri Club of the Year: Mount Maunganui