A Northland surf lifesaving programme which took lifeguards to beaches around the region where people have died is up for a national award.

Last summer, in its Beach Safety Education Tour of Northland's unpatrolled beaches, the Waipū Surf Lifesaving Club took 11 lifeguards and four junior surf members to locations in the North where people had drowned - Kai Iwi Lakes, Matai Bay, Taupo Bay, Cable Bay and Matapouri.

The lifeguards ran rescue demonstrations using rescue tubes, boards and IRB, first-aid demonstrations and education about how to spot a rip and stay safe in the water, as well as junior surf games for the children.

The initiative won the CSE Genesis Innovation of the Year Award at the Northern Region Surf Life Saving Awards of Excellence in July.


Now the tour is one of six programmes from surf clubs across New Zealand up for the Innovation of the Year award at Saturday's Surf Life Saving NZ Awards of Excellence, which will be held at Te Papa, in Wellington. It's the only Northland finalist.

The awards mark the top achievements, innovations and efforts made by club members in a range of roles, including Volunteer of the Year, International Performance of the Year and Lifeguard of the Year.

The country's 18,832 members, including 4903 lifeguards, have kept our clubs running strongly, our call-out squads responding, and our patrollers on beaches during summer.

In the 2018/19 year, lifeguards saved 702 people from life-threatening situations – that's a group of people who might not have made it home.

In the SLS year (July 1 to June 30), our lifeguards assisted 1622 people to safety from dangerous situations, took part in 381 searches, provided first aid 2578 times and took preventative action to keep people safe on the beach 118,307 times.

Northland's patrolled beaches are at Waipū Cove, Ocean Beach at Whangārei Heads, Mangawhai, Ruakākā and Ahipara, the season running from Labour Weekend to Easter.