Lined with beautiful coastlines and endless beaches and bays, the Western Bay of Plenty attracts thousands of beachgoers, swimmers, and surfers.
With beautiful coastal areas comes the need for surf lifeguard patrols to ensure everyone using the beach and water makes it home safely.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) has been saving lives for over a century, with 4,500 volunteer surf lifeguards patrolling over 90 beaches annually. Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty are home to six Surf Life Saving Clubs and four patrol locations from Waihi Beach to Pukehina.
These Western Bay clubs each focus on patrolling their local beach and surrounding areas. They also support emergency search and rescue services and provide coastal safety assessments, public education, and beach safety programmes.
As a charity, SLSNZ and individual clubs rely on the generosity of the public, their commercial partners, and foundations and trusts for donations and financial support to lead and coordinate front-line surf lifesaving services.
Throughout 2023, over $1.6 million of support has been spread throughout the Western Bay’s Surf Life Saving Clubs thanks to local funder TECT.
TECT strives to make a difference for Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty communities, says Chair Bill Holland.
“Being a coastal area, we need to be realistic of the risks large bodies of water bring to our community.”
“Grassroots organisations such as Surf Life Saving Clubs are vital to keeping our community safe in and around the water,” says Holland, “Ensuring the clubs are fully equipped and ready to handle emergencies is one way we can care for our community and keep them safe.”
TECT directly funded $1,640,708 into the six Western Bay clubs and the eastern region office throughout 2023. Clubs cover Waihi Beach, Mount Maunganui, Omanu, Papamoa, Maketu and Pukehina.
Waihi Beach Lifeguard Services patrols the full length of the coast to Bowentown, and now, thanks to TECT funding they will be able to build a new Hub building to serve the Bowentown patrols better. The main clubhouse at Waihi Beach is also getting an upgrade as the TECT funding will enable the installation of a fully accessible changing room. This supports the club’s goal of being the most inclusive Surf Life Saving Club with wheelchair beach mats and full changing facilities. A total of $389,000 was granted for these projects.
Similarly, Pukehina required a full club rebuild. After years of uncertainty, TECT’s $900,000 injection has enabled the club to be rebuilt to ensure Pukehina Beach continued to be served by volunteer surf lifeguards and that those needing support or care had a safe, reliable space to use within the community.
As well as focusing on individual club's infrastructure needs, TECT collectively supported the SLSNZ Eastern Region Office and six clubs in Waihi Beach, Mount Maunganui, Omanu, Papamoa, Maketu and Pukehina through a grant of $351,708 for surf lifeguarding costs and new surf lifesaving equipment.
SLSNZ Eastern Region Manager Avan Polo says the Eastern Region is extremely thankful to TECT for their support this year.
“As a region with large coastal areas, it’s critical that all our Surf Life Saving Clubs receive adequate resources and support. This ensures our dedicated surf lifeguards can fulfil their mission each year – safeguarding beachgoers and ensuring they return home safely to their friends and whānau. TECT recognises this, and by extending support to clubs like Bowentown, Maketu, and Pukehina, they prioritise people’s safety, regardless of their location along the coastline.”
This ensures that local clubs have the security that if they need a certain piece of equipment for training, popular events and days of the year, or specific rescue situations, if it isn’t already at their club, it isn’t far away.
Surf lifesaving events in the Western Bay coming up this summer have also been supported by TECT as a collaborative partner of the Tauranga Western Bay Community Event Fund (TWBCEF). The TWBCEF is a collaborative fund consisting of TECT, Acorn Foundation, BayTrust, Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council. The fund is designed to simplify the process and reduce the barriers to applying for community event funding. $80,000 was granted through the TWBCEF across the 2024 New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships, the Eastern Region Surf Life Saving Championships, SLSNZ Oceans 24 Tournament and Mt Maunganui Lifeguard Services’ Mount Monster.
For more information about TECT, their funding and grants, visit www.tect.org.nz