A volunteer lifeguard at one of Auckland's most treacherous beaches has spoken out after he was abused by a beachgoer when he tried to direct him to safety, and asked by another to stay overtime to watch her child.
The poor behaviour prompted patrol captain Adrian Jenkins to write a letter to the Herald about the treatment of those who give up their time to keep others safe.
"Unfortunately for the first time in the 12 years since I have been volunteering a respectable member of the public (holding his two small children by the hand) launched into my approach with "you're just the fun police" and told me to 'f' off. My only crime was to let him know the area he was walking his two girls into had a strong pull around the island," he wrote.
"Generally, the public are very good and most appreciative. But do I wonder if all realise that we are volunteers and have lives too."
Jenkins was on patrol at Bethells Beach on January 7 when the man abused him.
"I went, 'Hang on, you don't need to be like that - I'm not being rude I'm just trying to explain'," he told the Herald.
"But he wouldn't let me talk. These two little girls he had with him on each arm were quite embarrassed."
Rather than copping more abuse Jenkins decided to retreat, and lifeguards kept a keen eye on the trio from afar.
A couple of days ago Jenkins was caught by surprise once again, when a woman at the beach expected the patrol team to stick around for an hour after they clocked off.
"She was asking us to stay and make sure that her daughter was okay in the water, and I said 'No, that's not going to happen'.
"I tried to explain why this was in a nice way and she said 'Look I don't want a lecture, just tell me if it's dangerous'."
Jenkins, a volunteer surf lifesaver with the Bethells Beach Surf Life Saving Patrol for 12 years, said the incidents were belittling and left him feeling "undervalued".
The behaviour was particularly grating, he said, after a chaotic Sunday on patrol.
Three rescues, a dislocated shoulder, a head slashed open by a surf board and a handful of jellyfish stings were among the dramas Jenkins and his team dealt to.
National lifesaving manager Allan Mundy said as a lifeguard there was "nothing worse" than trying to help a member of the public and having them take it the wrong way.
"There are unfortunately sections of the public that take offence to the people that are trying to help them."
Jenkins' appeal for the public to respect for surf lifesaving patrols comes after a fraught few days in our waters.
At Muriwai, 41 people were rescued over the weekend including 13 in a mass rescue on Saturday afternoon. Nine were rescued at Karekare and 30 people needed help. Sunset Beach lifeguards rescued one and help nine others.
Some patrols had extended their hours because of the large numbers still on the beach after 5pm.
Surf Life Saving Northern Region chief executive Matt Williams said lifeguards were "limping off the beach after an almost 12-hour day".
Others have not been so lucky. The Police National Dive Squad pulled a body from the Rangitikei River on Monday, believed to be a missing 16-year-old who was swept away on Sunday night.
One man died and another man and a woman were rushed to hospital on Sunday after they were caught in a flash rip at Waimarama Beach, Hawke's Bay.
The body of 35-year-old Taupo woman Amy Jenny Brown was found last Wednesday after she went missing near the Haumoana river mouth the day before.
And American tourist Tyler Nii is presumed dead when he crashed into Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu on Tuesday on a tandem skydive.
Last year, 88 people drowned - 14 at beaches.
A lifeguard's letter
Unfortunately for the first time in the 12 years since I have been volunteering (SLS) a respectable member of the public (holding his two small children by the hand) launched into my approach with "you're just the fun police" and told me to 'F' off . My only crime was to let him know the area he was walking his two girls into had a strong pull around the island. No amount of passiveness was changing his view and so I retreated to calm things down.
I thought 'fair enough we cannot enforce what we do' so put it down to shit happens, but kept an eye on their location.
While packing up patrol after a long weekend this Sunday a very nice lady flagged our vehicle down and questioned why are you finishing? I explained that the patrol ends at 5pm for Bethells Beach. She then implied we should remain until 6pm because her daughter wanted to enter the sea! I tried to explain why we leave at that time and was told "I don't want a lecture, is the sea dangerous here or not"? I replied, yes.
This weekend at Bethells Beach was one of our busiest for D patrol, with three rescues, a dislocated shoulder, cut head from surf board and jelly fish stings.
My patrol of seven volunteers has plenty of experience over the years and last weekend escorted a group of Chinese visitors off the rocks (preventative action) after making them aware of the incoming tide — they were most grateful.
Generally, the public are very good and most appreciative. But do I wonder if all realise that we are volunteers and have lives too! So, to gentleman with two small girls, you're out of order. The time spent searching for drowned victims and pulling the public out of the water means I can't get offended by your comment, if not for the two girls you held each side of you.
Adi (D Patrol Captain, Bethells Beach)