Tauranga could ultimately lose its 24-hour Coastguard service unless the Government pumps more money into it.
That was the warning today after Coastguard missed out on government funding in Finance Minister Michael Cullen's Budget.
Nationally, Coastguard has lashed out at the government, saying it is disgusted.
In Tauranga today, operations and safety manager Chris Isherwood said the lack of money put the Bay's 24-hour service at risk.
Tauranga _ the country's second busiest Coastguard unit _ is almost totally volunteer based, with only Mr Isherwood being paid.
Mr Isherwood said the Budget decision was a surprise considering a 24-hour marine rescue service needed top class equipment and trained staff to operate effectively.
"Everything we use needs to be top of the line and we receive no funding," he said.
Mr Isherwood said Tauranga Coastguard already struggled to get enough volunteers and had to rely on a $75 membership fee and fundraising to generate money for fuel, training, and the other costs associated with buying search and rescue vessels.
"Without funding, the government might eventually lose a 24-hour rescue service. It's surprising when you see how much money goes into other areas."
Mr Isherwood's comments come after national Coastguard chief executive Kevin Rangi said a "comprehensive, cohesive and justifiable" budget bid had been prepared.
Coastguard New Zealand has expressed disgust that Government ignored the bid to secure funding and says the decision will lead to an increase in drownings.
The bid, compiled by Coastguard, Search and Rescue officials and other stakeholders, was motivated by the identification of risks within their system. News that it would not receive any government support had "put paid to the years of work invested into the country's long overdue revamp of Search and Rescue services", he said.
"This is yet another indication of the Government's unwillingness to address real issues confronting real New Zealanders."
Mr Rangi said New Zealand was a maritime nation in which more than one in three people took part in recreational boating every year.
"For the Government to continue to expect volunteers to fund the costs of providing and maintaining rescue boats and equipment and their training is outrageous.
"This is a gross dereliction of duty, which will result in New Zealanders drowning."
Mr Rangi said Coastguard volunteers had made an "exceptional contribution" to the safety of New Zealand's marine communities.
"It is repugnant that the Government has not recognised the commitment and dedication made by this group of people.
"They do much more than simply crew rescue boats in appalling conditions to save those who have the misfortune of needing assistance when at sea."
Mr Rangi said with the increasingly sophisticated technology available today, recreational boaties felt more confident about venturing further than they may have done even 10 years ago.
"For our crews to be able to assist these mariners when they get into trouble, they require appropriate vessels and the equipment and technology that will enable a quick and successful resolution to any potential disaster."
It was beyond the average local community to fund replacements for the aging Coastguard fleet, he said.
"Coastguard is the fire service and the ambulance on the water.
"It is not therefore unrealistic to expect that this sector of the community is supported in the same way that our Fire Service and Ambulance are on land. On the water it is impossible to just get out and walk."
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