The story of Ōtaki Surf Lifesaving Club is a story of community - the club keeping the Ōtaki community safe in out of the water, and of the community providing support to the club to keep them running.
Formed in 1922, the surf club had a rocky start, reforming many times until after the war when it started up again for good in 1953.
Ever since then, it has been a constant part of the community, operating at the beach in summer and providing support to the community through beach education in schools, first aid and rescue work in the off-season.
Celebrating their centenary last week, club president Neale Ames, who has been involved with the club since the 1950s, said, "While it was formed in 1922, it's only since 1953 that we've done 69 years of constant service.
"We still decided that we should celebrate 100 years as 1922 was the start of it, and it was tremendous to get people from all around the country back to Ōtaki to see the club as it is today, and share their memories of what it was like in their time."
Ōtaki is a typical lower North Island west coast beach with holes at regular intervals along the coastline, constantly moving, making it challenging for lifeguards.
Other environmental factors impacting the beach include the effect of tides, the wind, the Ōtaki River and Waitohu Stream.
With only two clubs in Kāpiti, Ōtaki and Paekākāriki, both clubs are regularly called out to support along the whole coastline.
When Neale started out, the club used the reel and line technique before rescue tubes were introduced, allowing individual rescues and good support for both the rescuer and the victim.
"We've now got IRBs (inflatable rescue boats) which have revolutionised surf lifesaving around the country."
The purchase of the club's first IRB came at the end of 1977 after a dramatic rescue in big surf proved the need for an easily accessible boat that club members could operate.
The club said, "In recognition of the danger involved, especially in rough conditions and when there was a strong offshore wind, the club investigated the purchase of an IRB and motor and the purchase was made at a cost of $4289 in October 1977.
"About 60 per cent of rescues are now done using IRBs," Neale said.
"Getting one was a major milestone for us."
As with most surf clubs around the country, the clubhouse is central to their operations.
At first, all the club needed was a place to store the line and reel – the Marine Pavilion was the designated spot, with club meetings and events held at various places around the town.
However, it soon became clear that their own clubrooms were needed and in 1955 negotiations began to lease land to the north of the Marine Pavilion.
Building began in November 1956, and from April 1957 the use of the pavilion was discontinued. A hall and kitchen were later added in 1959, but in July 1987 the building was destroyed by fire.
However, this tragedy, thought to be arson, was followed by a heartening community response.
"When the whole clubhouse burnt down in 1987, with the support of the community we raised $53,000 in cash to rebuild, which was from a population of about 4000 people in those days.
"We were even able to get back up and running for the next season in 1988.
"We put a lot into the community but they are very appreciative and give a lot back to us in support."
Currently, the club has just over 50 qualified lifeguards and 60 junior members (under 14s).
While women were allowed to be members early on, it was only after following a nationwide trend that females were allowed to train and become lifeguards when the rules were changed in 1974.
Now, more than half of Ōtaki's lifeguards are females.
"Our lifeguards are able to do a lot these days, they are trained in first aid, have radio and IRB training and our club does beach education, has a defibrillator available for everyone to use in an emergency and can assist in a lot of medical or emergency events."
Receiving a lot of support and positive comments online since posting photos of their centenary celebrations, Neale said, "The community really does appreciate the service we do.
"We've had a lot of nice comments online about our centenary showing that what we do is important.
"It's a nice feeling to know that you have the backing of the community that you serve."