Editorial: Guard against repeat

By Craig Cooper


It seems that Surf Lifesaving Northern Region (SLSNR) simply ran out of money to pay lifeguards throughout January in Northland.

We will still have weekend volunteer lifeguards working, but no one during the week. The exception is going to be Waipu - a beach that is more dangerous than neighbouring Ruakaka.

At Waipu, the locals know their beach will still be used heavily during the week in January. They do not want anyone to drown, and are raising money to pay for lifeguards during the week. It costs roughly $3000 per week per beach.

The Whangarei district has three beaches with paid lifeguards - so we are about $30,000 short of having lifeguards throughout each week until the end of January.

Small beer really, when you consider another popular coastal news item circulating. Just round the corner from Waipu at Langs Beach, locals are fond of reminding people a set of Rugby World Cup flagpoles cost $39,000 and weren't even finished in time for the event. Someone has erected a funny banner which says: "If these ugly $39,000 poles are here to stay please give us some dancers. Pretty ones." Most councils tend to take a humourless view of this sort of fun.

If the banner is still there as I write this, I would be surprised.

To be fair though, the WDC already contributes $19,300 to surf lifesaving over summer. Although this is a disproportionate amount compared to the Kaipara District Council's $19,000. Given the KDC's recent problems with operating a calculator, it's not hard to see how the KDC (one beach) agreed to pay $19,000 and the WDC (three beaches) pays $19,300.

At least the WDC contributes - the Northland Regional Council does not and sensible argument can be put forward that it should. Coastal water safety is the domain of the NRC - and is the water not where most rescues take place?

The double travesty is that we are in reactive mode, when some loud noise from SLSNR several months ago could have avoided this scenario. Collectively, all parties involved in surf lifesaving funding have contributed to the situation. Collectively, they should ensure it does not happen again.

For the sake of $50,000, the present situation could have and should have been fixed - enough parties involved with surf lifesaving funding knew about it.

- Northern Advocate

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