Cost-cuts will take beach lifesaver jobs

By Cassie Devoy

Raglan lifeguard Kris O'Neill is angry at the planned job cuts. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Raglan lifeguard Kris O'Neill is angry at the planned job cuts. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Surf Life Saving Northern Region is cutting jobs to reduce costs.

The planned changes are outlined in a letter sent to the northern region's club members. It said the cuts were to "reduce costs so that SLSNR operates within its means".

Among those to go will be three club development officers whose work includes looking after 17 clubs from Whangarei to Raglan, operating the communications centre, and overseeing jet-ski and helicopter squads, surf-lifesaving competitions and exams.

The restructuring will replace the three officers with one.

Kris O'Neill, a senior lifeguard at Raglan who has worked as a professional lifeguard in New Zealand and the UK for 15 years, is outraged.

"Some of the services they're providing are going to disappear - and they haven't said what we're going to lose."

He is also concerned about the risk to beach-goers because the cuts may affect the training of lifeguards.

"What sets lifesaving apart is that if you call up the office there are three or four really experienced lifeguards in that office that are doing admin work, but they're also lifeguards.

"That's really the point of difference - not just talking to an office worker but a lifeguard who understands, who has experience on the beaches."

Northern region board chief executive Pam Elgar refused to comment.

Surf Lifesaving NZ's media and communications adviser, Lisa Honeybone, said it was an "internal matter" and there was no comment.

A recent letter to northern region club members said revenue had fallen by 5 per cent each year for the past three years.

- NZ Herald

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