Northland's Baylys Beach is set to become a safer place for beachgoers with construction for a new community hub under way.
And it's down to the generosity of a local resident who donated a decent sum to get the project started and finished.
Well known for its beautiful rawness and imposing swells, Baylys is a popular Northland beach with easy access for the public.
The stunning scenery offers opportunities for surfing, collecting kaimoana and family outings, but the wild west coast is notoriously dangerous and accidents occur: in 2006, two men drowned within a week and just last year, Andrew Brough was attacked by a great white shark.
With no facilities available to accommodate volunteers or staff, a lifeguard patrol was never able to be established on the wild beach.
But this is about the change after a four-year effort sees a community centre being built close to the beach access that will cater for lifeguards and house rescue equipment.
The new building, located at the lower end of Seaview Rd, will host lifeguards, with shower facilities, beds and a garage space for quads, IRBs (inflatable rescue boats) and other equipment.
Surf Life Saving Northland Region chief executive Matthew Williams said the organisation was very pleased to be beneficiaries of the development.
"We're currently importing paid lifeguards from the Northland region to patrol Baylys Beach," Williams explained.
With the new lifesaving facility, Williams hopes to foster capability to supply lifeguards who are part of the Baylys Beach and Kaipara community and potentially offer surf lifesaving training: "This is a huge win for everyone."
An unnamed local resident had initiated the project almost four years ago, deciding he wanted to leave a lasting contribution to the place he loved and to "protect people from the crazy sea out here", Grant Suckling, explained.
Suckling, together with Paula Mitchell, Dr Michael Hogan and Amanda Matich are part of the Baylys Beach Community Centre Trust, which oversees the construction process and finances, and was established specifically for that purpose.
Suckling said the anonymous resident bought a section of land from the Kaipara District Council, and was part of the initial design stage until he died leaving the trust with a significant donation to complete the project.
Suckling said the trust's work got complicated after learning the land had come with an encumbrance; the Kaipara council had the right to build public toilets there.
Since the local community was advocating against adding another set of public toilets within walking distance of existing facilities, council got rid of their plans.
However, that meant the trust had to redesign the community hub, which now has internal toilets, but no restrooms with public access.
After the lengthy bureaucratic effort, constructions commenced in July.
The prolonged design process increased the cost and currently, the trust is $250,000 short of completing the construction.
"We have money to continue until mid-November and have applied for a new grant," Suckling said.
But he said there was a possibility that construction would have to be put on hold if the funding didn't come in time.
"We intend to be finished by mid-March 2020," Suckling said.
Once finished, the community centre will not only host lifeguards but also open its doors to local community groups, meetings and events.
"The hub is for activities that enhance the community and bring people closer together," Suckling explained.
Baylys Beach used to have an old church that was used as a community venue, but it was demolished a few years ago, leaving local residents with no place to gather.
"There are two aspects that our community was struggling with," Graeme Ramsey, the community centre project manager and former Kaipara Mayor, said.
"Firstly, [the unnamed resident] wanted to encourage water safety education and accommodate lifeguards here.
"And secondly, after the church was gone, we were left with nothing, and there was a need for a purpose-built community centre."
Ramsey said the entire process was met with "phenomenal universal support" by the local and wider community, a lot of voluntary input and donations by residents.
"The community centre is going to make a massive difference and is really fitting into the type of community that we are."
Surf Life Saving's Matthew Williams reminded the public to only swim at patrolled beaches and to immediately call 111 if someone sees a swimmer in distress at Baylys Beach without lifeguards nearby.