Editorial: Reverse cut to patrols

By Craig Cooper

1 comment


Somewhere, someone has cut funding for lifeguards on Northland beaches and they are dicing with death.

Last week, paid lifeguards stopped working at Whangarei Heads, Ruakaka and Baylys Beach.

That means no more patrols during the week - only weekends when volunteers step in to look after locals and visitors. In the meantime, people will continue to go to the beach - during the week and at weekends.

Paid lifeguards used to patrol further into summer, but the hours were cut back last year, during a January that goes down as one of the worst on record for weather. No one noticed, it seemed, that our guardian angels in yellow tops and red shorts were off duty a little earlier. No wonder, there was barely anyone at the beach in January.

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Why do we gamble like this with people's lives?

Coastguard, lifeguards - they all rely heavily on donations to stay alive, to help keep us alive.

In a region where the coast plays a massive part in our lifestyles, the disparity between safety spending on roadways and waterways is inexplicable.

If central or local government value a) their ratepayers' and taxpayers' lives and b) our international reputation as a safe summer destination then someone needs to pick this up and run with it.

We're talking about funding an extra four weeks - at least until the end of January - to keep lifeguards on duty until the summer holiday period ends.

There's not much point in having visitors if we don't value them enough to do what we can to keep them alive.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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