A tragic drowning at Cable Bay in the Far North is motivating the Waipu Cove surf life-saving club to teach water safety across Northland.
The club won an AMI-sponsored competition in which it was awarded $2500 to help undertake a water safety education tour at five locations across the region. The crew of 14 started yesterday at Kai Iwi Lakes and will be visiting Matai Bay at 2pm today, Cable Bay and Taupo Bay at 11am and 3.30pm respectively tomorrow and Matapouri on Friday at 1pm.
The club was inspired by Operation Flotation which placed flotation devices at unmonitored beach areas after Wairongoa Renata drowned at Cable Bay while attempting to rescue a group of children, including his daughter, who were caught in a rip on January 2 last year.
"Some people didn't seem to know how to use the flotation devices so that gave us the idea for an education tour," Waipu Cove surf life-saving club captain Kath Manning said.
The tour will involve demonstrations of CPR, how to operate an IRB vessel, different rescue techniques, how to spot rips as well as games and activities for the children.
Manning said the motivation was to cut the number of drownings in Northland in the busy summer months.
"We don't want to see any drownings so we are trying to help in any way we can with that and raise awareness of water safety at beaches or any water space."
She said spotting a rip was one of the key things she hoped to teach people as even for those who had gone to beaches all their lives, it was a hard skill to learn.
The 14-person team included 10 lifeguards and four junior recruits who Manning hoped would learn a lot from the experience.
"It'll be really inspiring for the younger ones to become lifeguards and it'll give them a broader view of being a lifeguard, especially the education side of it."
She said a tour like this had been done by others at the club about 30 years ago but she would wait to see how the tour went as well as what funding was available before confirming whether it would be done again.
Club treasurer Julia Baker and her daughter were the ones who secured the grant and Baker said she was glad to see the lifeguards promoting water safety messages.
"Every Kiwi goes to the beach but it's not always as safe an environment as they think.
"It's just about being a little aware of what to do when you're in a rip and how to make yourself as safe as you can be in those environments."
Baker said the club's lifeguards had been busier over this year's holiday period than in past years but the number of rescues required had not increased.
"I think the wonderful weather has just been bringing everybody out to the beaches in droves.
"We haven't seen an increase in the number of rescues but we are doing a lot of preventative action when we are on patrol."
To find more information on the club's tour, go to its Facebook page, Waipu Cove Surf Life Saving Club Inc.