Thursday, 22 October 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

New home for Tairua's lifeguards thanks to $700,000 grant

The hardworking lifeguards at Ocean Beach in Tairua will have a brand new place to call home from next year with construction set to get underway on a new clubhouse by early March.

Chairman of the Tairua Surf Lifesaving Club, Tony Cheetham, says the club is ecstatic that the long-dreamt about project is finally set to go ahead after the government announced it would meet the $699,000 cost. “I’m just so pleased for our guards, they are out there working hard, putting in long days looking after everyone and not being even able to have a shower, it’s been a pretty bad situation to be honest,” he said.

The current single-room clubhouse has no hot water, no space for lifeguards to do training or eat lunch and nowhere private for members of the public to receive first aid treatment. Tony says the club members have made it work for a long time, but the committee had always known it wasn’t good enough. “For years we have been talking about the need to improve the clubrooms, but it always came back to the same issue of how do we pay for it,” he says.

Tairua was one of six clubs in Surf Lifesaving New Zealand’s Eastern Region that received support from the government’s $50 billion Covid Response and Recovery Fund. Elsewhere on the Coromandel, Pauanui Surf Life Saving Club has been given $676,000 and Onemana Surf Life Saving Club will get $317,000.

The clubhouse in Tairua will work within the current site, but will be larger and include a separate training room, a kitchen and a changing room with showers. “These are just the basic things that many clubs take for granted and that our guards deserve,” Tony said. “We are a small club, but a growing one. We have great support from the local community, but to raise this sort of money ourselves would be a tough ask, that’s why we are absolutely delighted that the government has decided to help us out.”

It has been a busy year for the club. As well as hosting a visiting delegation of lifeguards from Huntington Beach, California, near record numbers participated in the summer Junior Surf Programme in January and, for the first time in its history, Tairua was named the Coromandel Club of the Year as well as Patrol Club of the Year at the Eastern Region Surf Life Saving Awards. “It was just awesome and it reflects the huge progress we are making as a club,” Tony says.

A strong focus on pathways for further qualifications and even employment for its lifeguards are among the aims going forward. Tony says the announcement earlier this year that government is to directly fund the cost of running surf lifesaving clubs for the first time will mean more time to focus on these goals. “It means we know that our costs - the electricity, our rates, the tubes we need to purchase – all of that is now covered,” he says. “Up until now, pretty much all of our time as a committee was spent on fundraising and applying for grants just so we could operate. We will now be able to focus more on our lifeguards and our communities, and that’s how it should be.”

Pictured: The current Tairua Surf Life Saving Clubhouse.

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