Record-breaking season for surf life savers

There were no drownings between the flags of patrolled beaches this season in the northern region. Photo / File
There were no drownings between the flags of patrolled beaches this season in the northern region. Photo / File

Surf life savers on beaches in the northern region have completed another record-breaking season.

Lifeguards made 581 rescues at beaches between Ahipara in the Far North and Raglan in the Waikato, a 28 per cent increase on the previous summer.

They were also involved in more than 44,100 preventative actions - safety interventions before people need rescuing - involving 132,850 people, a 25 per cent increase on 2014-15.

However, there were no drownings "between the flags" at the 17 patrolled beaches in the area.

Volunteer and paid lifeguards worked more than 83,000 hours over summer, a 10 per cent increase on the year before, as visitor numbers topped 453,000.

"Despite having the highest beach user statistics in the country, fewer people drown on our beaches per head of population than anywhere else in New Zealand," said Surf Life Saving Northern Region chief executive Matt Williams.

The region's population was diverse and many people did not have the required level of awareness of the dangers of surf beaches, he added.

Finding the resources to make and prevent more rescues every year for the past five years continues to challenge the organisation.

Mr Williams said there was more emphasis on training. Junior membership at surf clubs is on the increase and the "City Nippers" programme - catering for inner-city children who can't get to a surf club - is oversubscribed.

- NZ Herald

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