A Rotorua man found himself in the wild west flying about in helicopters and searching for missing people all in the name of water safety training.

Daniel Manzano recently returned from Texas where he was able to upskill in water safety training and in turn, upskill New Zealanders.

It was an experience like no other but through it, Manzano learnt New Zealand had a lot of improving to do.

"They have big hurricanes all the time so people they train are really well-prepared and well-equipped."


For more than 10 years Manzano has been volunteering for New Zealand Land Search and Rescue (LandSAR) as a trainer in water safety.

New Zealand could learn a thing or two from the wild west Manzano believed. Photo / Andrew Warner
New Zealand could learn a thing or two from the wild west Manzano believed. Photo / Andrew Warner

Every year the organisation awards a scholarship to a volunteer so they can learn in other countries knowledge in an area that would affect New Zealand - Manzano was the winner this year.

In the 12 months to June 2018 LandSAR helped save 65 people, rescued 191 and helped another 426 and Manzano believes there needs to be more realistic training experiences.

"There are definitely strong areas in New Zealand we do very well but there are certain areas we could do with a little improvement.

"Inter-agency co-operation is not great.

"Over there [Texas] everyone trains with everyone because they know when a big disaster happens they will need to work together."

Originally from Chile, Manzano has lived in New Zealand for close to 25 years.

It was the attraction of a summer job that brought him here but the beauty of New Zealand that made him stay.


But his journey in water safety did not start with LandSAR, he's been working in the field for most of his life.

"What drives me is the satisfaction of being able to help someone in need and hopefully get family smiling again because you've got their loved one back to them."

He said the difference he makes becomes like fuel and he needs it to keep running.

"I would like to believe little by little we are contributing to better water safety in the country."