Surf Life Saving wants to extend Waipatiki service

By Lawrence Gullery

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Surf Life Saving New Zealand is asking Hastings ratepayers for just over $52,000 to set up a new service at Waipatiki to ensure public safety next summer.

Hastings District Council already provided $50,244 for lifeguard services at Ocean and Waimarama beaches. It had also this year approved $7000 to set up a trial summer service at Waipatiki while Napier City Council committed $10,000.

This month Surf Life Saving New Zealand wrote to the Hastings council asking for it to earmark a further $52,100 in its 2013/14 annual plan, which would go towards set up costs and wages for the new regional lifeguard service at Waipatiki.

It wanted three lifeguards at Waipatiki, seven days a week, working 42 days of the summer season. Ocean Beach and Waimarama had four lifeguards working five days a week, over 30 days of the summer period.

A minimum of three lifeguards should be stationed at each of the beaches as it was the lowest number of people needed to operate an inflatable rescue boat. The beach, north of Napier had not had a lifeguard service and was becoming a popular spot for visitors during summer.

In January, Analisa Tipu had been diving under the surf with her cousin, Leilani Wong at Waipatiki when they were dragged out to sea. They were rescued by a group of Napier teens.

A Coastal Public Safety Assessment identified lifeguarding services at Waipatiki Beach was needed to prevent drowning and injury. The report recommended an increase for services at Ocean Beach and Waimarama as well but Surf Life Saving New Zealand said the focus for additional funding should be for a new service at Waipatiki.

"Waipatiki Beach should be patrolled seven days a week over the peak period (summer school holidays). The weekends could either be patrolled by a volunteer or professional lifeguarding service," the report said.

Waipatiki is becoming a popular beach destination over summer and its ratepayers association supported efforts to establish a trial regional lifeguard service.

The Coastal Public Safety Assessment also said water safety signage, emergency beacon systems and education programmes were required around Hawke's Bay beaches to reduce the risk of drowning and injury.

A total of 10 people drowned at Hawke's Bay beaches since 2002, while 458 people had been saved by lifeguards, 555 injured had been treated, 132 searches had been conducted and 68,981 people had been removed from danger before coming into difficulty in the water.

 

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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