Karekare Surf Lifesaving Club

Construction Nears Completion at Karekare Surf Lifesaving Club

The first of seven Auckland surf lifesaving clubs to be upgraded over the next decade as part of a multi-million dollar regional refurbishment programme is set to be completed in the coming weeks.

The final stage of construction and fit-out for the new Trusts Karekare Surf Lifesaving Club building is now nearing completion with the clubrooms expected to be in use by July – twenty years after the planning and consent process first began. 

The Auckland region has 15 surf lifesaving clubs with the oldest formed 87 years ago. The surf club buildings were usually constructed by volunteers and supporters using materials that have not withstood exposure to the harsh marine environment along the region’s coastline.

The Karekare club, which was established in 1935, will be the first of seven new surf clubrooms to be built, replacing a timber building severely damaged by rust and rot with a $3.3million concrete masonry structure – designed to support life-saving efforts at the beach for the next century and beyond.

Matt Wade, the Trusts Karekare Surf Lifesaving Club captain, says during the construction period, volunteers at Karekare have been storing equipment and operating out of shipping containers on an adjacent property.

He says without a suitable building, lifesavers are provided little shelter from the elements for up to eight hours at a time and would need to perform resuscitations on the beach, car park or even on a neighbour’s front lawn.

“The surf lifesaving network in Auckland is seeing a significantly increased demand for its services as regional populations increase. National publicity highlighting the pristine nature and wilderness vistas at Karekare and Whatipu has also encouraged visitors from further afield who are unfamiliar with the dangers of the area.

“Volunteers at the clubs now focus on proactively identifying beachgoers who are unknowingly placing themselves in high-risk situations and intervening before they develop into a rescue scenario. 

“With more pressure on the surf clubs to help make our beaches safer, the 10:20 replacement programme over the next 20 years is an essential investment to provide the infrastructure our volunteers need to save lives,” he says.

Wade says Karekare lifesavers spent around 4200 hours patrolling the beach rescuing or assisting 24 people to safety over the most recent season and took over 1,000 preventative actions to preemptively steer beach users away from danger.

Trusts CEO Allan Pollard, whose organisation is now naming rights sponsor of the club says Auckland’s West Coast beaches are some of the most dangerous in the country. 

“With over 10km to patrol, the Karekare club has one of the country’s longest and most challenging stretches of coastline, and it is critical that the 100 volunteer surf lifesavers have the financial resources and purpose built facilities they need to protect the thousands of beachgoers that visit the area each year.

“Features at the new surf club building will include a life-saving station, first aid room, and an elevated watchtower – allowing greater visibility down the beach.

“The opening of new facilities will help save the lives of the next generations of beach users – with rescuers able to bring people suffering from hypothermia into a warm environment and also be able to resuscitate those who have stopped breathing with specialised equipment stations,” he says.

Pollard says the investment in new facilities, which was also partially funded by Auckland Council, will provide a Civil Defence and Search and Rescue centre for the area and also plays an essential role in the attraction and retention of lifeguards – with ages ranging from 14-80.

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