Exceptionally Busy Waitangi Weekend For Auckland’s West Coast Lifeguards
Surf lifesavers in the Northern Region were kept exceptionally busy over the long weekend, particularly at Muriwai beach where lifeguards performed 12 out of the 16 total rescues for the weekend.
A series of flash rips just outside of the flags at Muriwai yesterday had the guards performing six rescues and 11 assists over the afternoon.
During the busiest period, tube swimmers, board paddlers, the club’s rescue jetski, and an IRB were all in the water at the same time, says Patrol Captain, James Lilley.
Lilley says the turn of the tide at midday kept the guards on their toes as they had to continuously shift the flags to safer areas.
He praised the public for listening to the lifeguards and happily moving across the beach when needed to keep themselves safe from the changing currents. “There are always going to be dangers and conditions are always changing. Everyone listened, and was really nice about moving to swim between the flags”.
With the conditions Muriwai experienced, Lilley highlighted how valuable the clubs jetski was in ensuring the guards could do their job, and keep the public safe. “The jet ski was able to sit consistently off the flag easier than the IRB could and pick-up swimmers as necessary. We had the tools we needed”.
Surf Lifesaving Northern Region Search and Rescue supervisor John-Michael Swannix, commended all the lifeguards for the hard work they put in over the weekend, and the entirety of the patrol season thus far. “Our guards have taken to the season exceptionally well, and are using all the training and equipment provided to them to ensure the public enjoys the beach and returns home safe.”
Swannix says Waitangi Weekend marked a change to patrols as schools resumed.
Weekday patrols at Northland beaches finished last week at Ruakākā, Waipū Cove and Mangawhai Heads. Ocean Beach, Whangārei Heads and Ahipara, Far North finished at the end of January.
Swannix says that weekday patrols have also finished up at Karekare and Kariaotahi on Auckland’s West Coast, but continue at Muriwai, Bethells, North and South Piha.
North Shore beaches have finished up patrols, apart from Ōrewa which goes until the end of February.
“Weekend patrols continue at all beaches until Easter.” Swannix says.
“If anyone sees someone in trouble at the beach outside of patrol hours, they should call 111 and ask police for the surf lifeguards.”
Waitangi Monday West Coast Wrap:
Muriwai had an exceedingly busy afternoon. From 12:30pm, they rescued six people and assisted 11. Their run of incidents began when a member of the public ran up to lifeguards as they were getting out of the IRB they had been training in. The informant said their friend was in trouble out the back of the flags. Both men had been swimming confidently but one had made it in and his friend was now getting tired. The IRB launched and picked up the patient.
Next, a current opened up north of the flags and pulled a 13 year old boy out with it. Lifeguards who had been patrolling in water assisted the boy until the RWC picked him up and returned him to shore.
Lifeguards moved the flags but an hour later a similar hole opened up on the north side of their flags again, this time starting to pull a group of six people into it. The group was assisted by multiple lifeguards using a rescue board, a rescue tube and an IRB.
Minutes later lifeguards rescued two people who also got pulled out the north side of the flags out of their depths.
Very soon after, lifeguards rescued another two people who were swept out of their depths by a rogue wave and started being pulled out to sea.
Lifeguards were fighting changing surf conditions all day, moving their flags many times throughout the day. They had lifeguards patrolling from in the water most of the day, who were able to assist some people drifting out of the flags before they needed rescuing.
Bethells Beach assisted a young man who was suffering from dehydration and exhaustion on the walkway between Muriwai and O’Neills bay. They helped transport him back to the club and treated him until he recovered and could be taken home.
Piha’s IRB was out training when they spotted a man in his mid-50s out the back of the flags. They asked if he was okay, and he responded that he was getting very tired. The IRB pulled him in and brought him back to shore.
United’s IRB was also out training with a newly qualified driver and crewman when the pair spotted a family walking on a sandbar. The four people, including a child were fine until a woman tried to cross the channel back to the shore with the child. The pair made some progress, and the IRB kept an eye on them, but then saw they were no longer making headway. The IRB couldn’t get into where the two were, so they beached the IRB and the pair were pulled in with tubes.
Kariaotahi also assisted three people between 3:30pm and 4:30pm. First, a nine year old boy drifted south out of the flags and was pulled back by a lifeguard. Soon after, another nine year old boy was caught in the same current and again brought back over to the flags by lifeguards. Later, a 28 year old man was pulled north out of the flagged area and was assisted back by lifeguards.