The surf's up again in Piha, New Zealand, where a $10,000 community donation from Ventia will allow United North Piha Lifeguard Service to enhance its radio capability after critical equipment was stolen last week. 

Eighteen radios and a patrol laptop were amongst the $35,000 of equipment stolen from the lifeguard service, which has been heavily involved in the response to Cyclone Gabrielle in the hard-hit Piha community where, two weeks' on, there is still limited power and water supply. 

Ventia's General Manager Transport for New Zealand Vic Hensley says Ventia does a lot of work locally and is "incredibly proud" to be in a position to help an organisation doing such important work for the community.

Our crews live and work locally, maintaining roads and other critical infrastructure that help keep communities connected. We've seen first hand the devastating impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle and the critical role the lifeguard service has played in the response.

Two Ventia employees received assistance from lifeguards during Cyclone Gabrielle while on the road from Piha to nearby Karekare, making the cause all the more personal, Vic said.

"Our employees' experience is just one example of the huge difference lifeguards around New Zealand make every day. We're really pleased to be able to come to the party to support this important work."

Theft puts lives at risk

United North Piha Lifeguard Service President Robert Ferguson says the theft last week was "gutting" as it put lives at risk and the equipment stolen would cost thousands of dollars to replace. 

The radios have no value to the thieves as they're programmed for our private network, but they have huge value to us, and to the community who we use the radios to keep safe. 

"We patrol a very long beach and the radios are so incredibly essential; they're like a part of our uniform - a lifeguard without a radio isn't much good in a situation where you're needing to call for back-up, or a rescue takes you around the corner, out of sight. They're also really key in coordinating with other emergency services and first responders, like the NZ Police Eagle helicopter."  


The $10,000 grant from Ventia will help to enhance the club's radio capability. Pictured (L-R) Ventia Auckland West Contact Manager Mike Marsden, United North Piha Lifeguard Service President Robert Ferguson and Ventia Transport, New Zealand Business Development Manager, Natalie Martin.


Help to enhance the club's radio capability

Rob says the $10,000 grant from Ventia is "unbelievable" and will go a long way to enhancing the club's radio capability. In addition to replacing the stolen radios, the club is investigating having radios permanently installed in the ATVs it uses to patrol the beach or installing microphones in the helmets lifeguards wear when crewing vehicles and watercraft or performing certain rescues, such as those near rocks.  

The grant was presented to the United North Piha Lifeguard Service at a small ceremony at Ventia's West Auckland depot on 1 March.