The Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service has broken through the $1 million mark in fundraising for a new world-class, multi-use base.
The iconic surf lifesaving club has served the Mount Maunganui community for 86 years but the current building - last updated more than 25 years ago - is in urgent need of repair.
Club chairman Paul Treanor said the latest confirmed grant - $100,000 from the Grassroots Trust - has the project near the halfway mark and he’s hopeful of more good news to come.
“We should know the result of our application to the Lottery Grants Board by the end of the month and, if that is successful, we’ll be on the home straight,” Treanor said. “We’ve been delighted with the support we’ve received so far in a tough fundraising climate, with our standing in the community giving us a definite advantage.
The club provides lifeguarding services throughout summer, not only to a 6km stretch of coastline but also on and around Mauao and in Pilot Bay. The search for Jack Dixon, washed off rocks near the Mauao base track in 2014, highlighted the need for an operations base, able to handle large-scale emergency responses with the likes of Police and Search and Rescue.
Major contributors to the new building fund include Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust ($400,000), $200,000 each from New Zealand Community Trust and Tauranga City Council and $100,000 from both MacKay Strathnaver Trust and Grassroots Trust.
Tauranga's population has meant there were far more people using the beaches and on Mauao, with lifeguard numbers increasing as a result, and Treanor explained the club needs more space for training and performing core lifeguarding roles, with a community function centre generates cash-flow to fund services and maintenance.
“Our stated aim is to provide world-class lifesaving services and we want to lead the way, not only on the beach environment but also in our integration with other emergency services. Our building project has that firmly in mind and will help us keep the public safe for generations to come.”
MMLS general manager Glenn Bradley said the club had made a strong start to the patrolling season, making use of the Zespri-funded Eastern Region lifeguard education and adopting several innovative training approaches.
The club has taken its lifeguard theory refresher tests online for the first time, allowing more time to be spent on brushing up practical skills, while professional ATV and 4WD driver training clinics are also being held.
“The 4WD training in particular has been hugely beneficial,” Bradley said. “A large portion of our first aid incidents are on Mauao, so our club members need to be trained and confident at driving up to the summit, either to provide assistance ourselves or to take St Johns staff to the scene. That’s why you may spot our club truck on Mauao this weekend, with another training clinic scheduled for Saturday.”
Planning for the building project will also continue, with the club hoping to move into community fundraising early in the new year and construction set to start in May. The aim is to have the new building ready for the 2017-18 season.