Social media helps man get to grandmother's funeral

By Amelia Wade

Michael Jenkins and two members of the Coastguard make their way to the mainland after Jenkins was picked up. Photo/Supplied
Michael Jenkins and two members of the Coastguard make their way to the mainland after Jenkins was picked up. Photo/Supplied

A series of tweets and shares helped co-ordinate getting a ranger off a small island in the Hauraki Gulf who needed to get to his grandmother's funeral.

Kat Jenkins sent the call out into the Twittersphere this afternoon that her Department of Conservation ranger brother was stranded and needed to get to the funeral.

Jenkins told the Herald the fortnightly ferry from Motuihe which her sibling Michael Jenkins intended to catch was cancelled because of choppy seas and bad weather.

So the seasoned Tweeter asked her 1300 followers if there was anyone who could pick him up from Motuihe, even just to drop him to neighbouring Waiheke Island where he could get a ferry back to the mainland.

"I thought, 'There's only one place that I know of which can solve this for us', and I put my tweet up."

It quickly got retweeted 31 times and somehow made it on to the timeline of a crew chief at the Coastguard who could see they had a boat nearby and got in touch.

Paul Ulenberg, skipper of the volunteer crew on Rescue Alpha, said they were doing some exercises over by Waiheke when they got the call to help the ranger.

"We just got in touch with him, asked if he needed a bit of a hand so went on over, parked up on the beach and just brought him back to Auckland. Pretty simple. We're happy to help where we can."

Ulenberg said Michael didn't have many other choices so they were more than pleased they could help out the DoC ranger.

"It makes for a good day."

Jenkins too was ecstatic about the quick and efficient operation for her brother that she managed to co-ordinate through the social media platform.

"I think there was something really special that happened today in that everyone pulled together ... people just pressed a button [to retweet] and a couple of those button presses got us a result."

Jenkins, who helps people with their crowdfunding campaigns, has used Twitter for eight years and has only occasionally asked the platform for help.

"To get the Coastguard to pick up my brother, that's pretty out there. I've seen some pretty cool stuff happen ... this is quite amazing and quite wonderful."

Michael is now safely on the mainland and is on his way down to Napier for his grandmother's funeral tomorrow.

- NZ Herald

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