Auckland Airport is giving away $120,000 to NZ charities as part of its 12 days of Christmas initiative this year. The Herald is profiling each of the winning charities in the lead-up to December 25

When your job description involves saving lives, you need to be well-equipped.

So there was no question where the money would go when the United North Piha Lifeguard Service was named one of a dozen New Zealand charities to receive $10,000 from Auckland Airport.

The club will put the money towards a defibrillator and a Mercury 30 Surf engine to help with rescues and patrols.

The director of lifesaving at United North Piha, Leif Nielson, said making sure lifeguards were prepared and that they had the equipment they needed at all times was hugely important to the job.


"It's going to give us the peace of mind that we have good gear on the beach, if and when we need it," Mr Nielson said.

"Having good gear is vital in a lifeguard's role."

Mr Nielson said the new outboard motor would cost about $6000, while the defibrillator would be about $4000.

Auckland Airport spokesman Charles Spillane acknowledged that this time of year would be the busiest for lifeguard patrols around the country.

"The North Piha Lifeguard Service patrols an impressive expanse of coastline.

"With summer holidays on the way and Kiwis getting their togs out, we felt it was important to ensure the organisation was properly equipped for the vital role they play in keeping people safe."

The lifeguard service is one of 12 charities from around the country to receive the grant in the airport's annual Christmas giveaway.

The money is raised from donations from members of the travelling public who place unwanted currency into special globes, placed around the terminal, throughout the year.