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SLS Gisborne facing funding challenge

SURF Life Saving NZ has been advised to approach Eastland Community Trust to replace a $100,000 sponsorship it has lost from the JN Williams Memorial Trust for the Gisborne and East Coast area. The suggestion came after the organisation presented its 2016/17 lifeguard service report to Gisborne District Council’s environmental planning and regulations committee.

Surf Life Saving Eastern regional manager Chris Emmett said the JN Williams trust was no longer funding surf lifesaving; it was putting its money into health and education.

“They have been upfront with us and signalled it a year in advance,” he said. The organisation had a great relationship with the trust.

Committee chairwoman Pat Seymour suggested the organisation should approach the Eastland Community Trust to help cover the funding shortfall. ECT was interested in economic development, job creation and safety for young people, she said.

Mr Emmett said over the last few summers, lifeguards in Gisborne and at Tolaga Bay saved seven lives and performed 10 safety assists, 21 first aid incidents and 12 searches. That would be considered a moderate amount in the Eastern region, which extended to the top of the Coromandel Peninsula.

“We are facing some challenges at the moment and want to be upfront about those."

The national increase of the minimum wage rate to $15.75 and health and safety was a greater consideration.

For the coming season they needed to maintain five weeks of coverage at the three town beaches — Waikanae, Midway and Wainui. That would allow coverage from Christmas to the Auckland Anniversary Weekend.

Tolaga Bay would be reduced from two sites to one. They would be asked which one they wanted to keep — the wharf or main beach. A minimum of three lifeguards were needed at each site.

They would like to see the city beaches coverage extended to six weeks. At five weeks they were missing out on the first week when students had left school.

They were looking at altering the lifeguards' hours to run later — from 10.30am to 6.30pm — because more people were on the beach later. They had invested in beach education that had grown from 400 students three years ago to hopefully 1500 to 2000 this year.

“The one thing we are struggling with is that the people we are employing are generally school leavers or university students.”

They liked to work in places where they would continue their education or career, he said. A package that would give them 10 to 12 weeks during the summer would help.

Challenging outlook ahead. File photo