The rescue of four swimmers from a rip at Whangamata has won a regional surf lifesaving award.

Each month, Surf Life Saving New Zealand selects a winning rescue from each region as well as an overall national winner for the title of BP Rescue of the Month.

Whangamata won the Eastern Region award for February.

Off duty lifeguards were alerted by a member of the public to a group of swimmers in trouble at 4.30pm. The family of four were struggling in a rip.


Lifeguards Max Jones, Nic Hamlin and Connor Gibson responded on rescue boards and within five minutes had reached the patients.

The most exhausted patient, a 15 year-old male, had taken on water and was being assisted by his cousin. He was very close to losing consciousness due to energy expenditure, and taking on water.

Mr Jones pulled him onto his rescue board and awaited assistance from his fellow lifeguards while also keeping the other three patients afloat. Once all of the patients had been secured on rescue boards, they were returned to shore.

The first patient was brought up the beach by Mr Jones and placed in the recovery position while Connor responded with a resuscitation kit and defibrillator. Braytten Adams called for an ambulance and the lifeguards continued to monitor the patient and administer oxygen through a mask.

Lifeguards transported the patient on a stretcher to the surf club where they met the ambulance. At 5pm the patient was handed over to ambulance staff that assessed and monitored the patient on scene for half an hour. He was found to be stable, was given medical advice and handed over to his caregivers.

A fatal drowning of the teenage boy and his family was prevented that day due to the lifeguards' quick actions.

The club receives a $100 Gift Card from BP to help with the financial costs of keeping communities safe in the water.

BP NZ Managing Director Matt Elliott said the quick response from the off duty lifeguards was outstanding.

"Since 1968 we have been proud to stand behind this amazing organisation that can make the difference between life and death," he says.

Nominations for the March round close on April 7. For more information about BP Rescue of the Month.