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Coastguard ‘Professional Volunteer’ is special

15 September 2006

Coastguard ‘Professional Volunteer’ is something special

Jim Anderton opened the Coastguard conference today, which has as its theme 'The Professional Volunteer’. Jim Anderton said it was easy for the public to be blasé about the work the Coastguard does but that the fifth anniversary of 9/11 this week had brought again into sharp relief the contribution and heroism of emergency and volunteer services.

“Coastguards often find themselves in the frontline of a crisis. They are not often world-shaking events, and we all hope there is never such a thing here. But if we consider the six thousand people a year that are involved in incidents on the water, where coastguards are involved, there is nothing to be blasé about,” Jim Anderton said. “If a proportion of those interventions are life-saving, then totalled up over many years, the difference these coastguard make is both impressive and sobering.

“Most of us go to the beach to relax and swim. The Coastguard however, knows the danger signs and they are there for us when things go wrong. The Coastguard does an amazing job. As a volunteer organisation, it requires a very high degree of professionalism from its volunteers, which is gained through extensive training courses.

“New Zealanders owe a debt of gratitude to the two thousand volunteers who keep our coastguard running and there is a moral in this for the way we continue to shape our New Zealand identity. For years we've been told we need to be more cut-throat and grab what we can for ourselves. And there is a cacophony of voices expecting something for nothing. But in truth we need to ask everyone to give more to each other and offer in return the opportunity for doing better.

“We need to restore the concept of service to our social and political values. The service we need more is the sort that is given to communities by the people who keep the coastguard's wheels oiled. I urge you to continue to be motivated by the sense of service, civic pride and care for your fellow New Zealanders. You are one of the custodians of our waters,” Jim Anderton said today in Christchurch.

ENDS

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