The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on New Zealand life, with very few people unaffected by the restrictions on movement and its impact on employment.
For Surf Life Saving Northern Region, the repercussions of the virus have also been significant. The move to Level 3 and then Level 4 lockdown came while weekend lifesaving patrols were scheduled to continue at some beaches until Easter. All such club-based patrols were immediately discontinued though our Emergency Call-out Teams remained on standby with suitable PPE provision and will continue to do so year-round.
The biggest issue the Northern Region faces as a result of the virus is funding. For over 100 years, our service has been proudly community-funded, and we rely heavily on community support to deliver all of our services, as we remain unfunded in our critical service delivery. The impact of COVID-19 has been a major reduction in vital grants, while our local authority funding has also been cut.
As a result, SLSNR is at a critical point in its existence. The organisation faces an uncertain future financially, just when it is heading into what may be the most demanding year it will face operationally. We are expecting our largest year of service delivery in our history. Even before COVID-19, our Surf Life Saving clubs had experienced a big increase in the numbers of people at the beaches we patrol, as part of a surge in recreational use of our coastlines in general. Additionally, the diversity of recreation at our coasts has expanded, with a proliferation of new sports and activities - all requiring different skills to respond should those taking part get into trouble. For the forthcoming season we can expect there to be even greater pressure on our services, as Kiwis choose to holiday on our coasts as opposed to other parts of the world.
For that reason, we write to you today to request your financial assistance to keep Surf Life Saving Northern Region vibrant and able to continually deliver excellence to our communities. We are accustomed to being “the helping hand” that saves lives; but now we are looking to you, as someone who has supported the movement in the past, to be that helping hand to ensure we can continue to respond to current challenges, continue to deliver our critical services at a time they will be most needed and to continue our work saving lives on our beaches this summer.
This is our Mayday to you. If you are able to make a donation, please go to
Your helping hand now could be the difference between our lifeguards being able to do the same for those in trouble at our beaches, or being unable to assist…with tragic outcomes.
The above article appeared on the SLSNR Facebook page on 26 May 2020.