Operation Flotation, launched at Doubtless Bay after 54-year-old Wairongoa Renata drowned at Cable Bay on January 2, 2018, while attempting to rescue children who had been caught in a rip, is spreading further afield.
Trustee Pat Millar delivered rescue tubes and the boxes specially made by Recreational Services, in Waipapa, to house them to Maitai Bay yesterday, with more destined for Shipwreck Bay (Te Kohanga).
Pat said she had been working with Haina Tamehana (Kaitiaki Rangers) on the sites, and she planned to go to Maitai Bay yesterday evening to install and bless the tubes. She was expecting to install Te Kohanga's on Friday this week, with more to be installed at Tauranga and Taemaro bays over the next couple of weeks, followed by two for Opito Bay Beach, in the Coromandel, towards the end of January.
This was the first phase of Operation Flotation, organised by a charitable trust, she added. Phase 2 would be development of a monitoring and/or GPS tracking system to notify emergency services when a device was removed, and the installation of more tubes around Doubtless Bay. Phase 3 would be collaboration with other communities to replicate the system throughout the Far North once the concept had been refined and agreed.
Doubtless Bay had wasted no time in acquiring equipment that might well save lives after Mr Renata died, Pat making a start by attaching a fishing float to a tree on the beach at Cable Bay.
"All the news reports say if anyone is in trouble, first call for help, then, if you go to assist, make sure you have a flotation aid. Hence the float, left over from when my husband had a fishing boat," she said at the time.
"One of my friends said they would contribute to a proper rescue aid. When I found out it cost over $200 I texted seven other friends and asked them if they wanted to contribute, and suddenly I had more than enough."
In 2018 the price of each tube was $255, delivered (from the US) and marked with information regarding their use and what to do in an emergency in both English and te reo. By August 2018 tubes had been installed at Cable Bay, Taipā (opposite the resort) and Cooper's Beach (at the carpark and outside the San Marino Motel).