Jan. 17, 2022, 11 a.m.
New Zealand is currently halfway through the summer season and has suffered record drownings for this time of the year, already surpassing the number of drownings for the whole summer period of the previous years.
Surf Life Saving is a key agency that provides programmes and infrastructure in partnership with Water Safety NZ and other central government-funded organisations throughout New Zealand to support the public with safe swimming on New Zealand beaches.
During the 2020 to 2021 season their lifeguards saved 187 lives and assisted 335 to safety, according to the Surf Life Saving NZ website.
In the far north, Surf Life Saving is based in Ahipara where you will see the beach patrolled over the busy summer months with patrol officers and all the necessary equipment required to monitor the beach and assist the public should anyone be in a situation where they’re needed.
‘Stay calm and go with the flow’, Akesa Waitai-Ifopo (Far North Rescue Chair and Surf Life Saving Patrol Guard) says ‘it is important when in an unsafe situation in the ocean so that you can assess the situation’.
The beach at Ahipara is known as Te Oneroa-ā-Tohe and has a Northern directional pull with swimmers drifting up the beach and multiple areas with rips so being cautious of the environment is very important.
They run several different classes for different age groups to teach them about all the different things to observe and how to be safe and keep others safe in this role. These include Nippers (5-11year olds), Rookies (12-13year olds) and Bronzies (14+ and those training to become a lifeguard) qualifications, according to the Far North Surf Rescue FB page.