Summer campaign targets risky behaviour
Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 48, June 2015
Maritime NZ funded the training, delivered as part of the Safe Summer Coromandel campaign. This initiative draws on the expertise and resources of 14 agencies and emergency services – including St John’s Ambulance, New Zealand Police, the Fire Service, Surf Life Saving NZ, ACC, Coastguard, Thames Coromandel District Council, Waikato Regional Council and Maritime NZ – to try to stem the seasonal rise in avoidable deaths and injuries in the area during the summer holiday period. At this time, the region’s population surges to up to four and a half times the usual resident population of 26,000.
Safe Summer Coromandel encourages people to stay safe on the roads and water, and in their own homes and communities, by making sound decisions – driving to the conditions, wearing a lifejacket, controlling their drinking, and so on.
Under the expert tuition of the former Navy diver and sea survivor Rob Hewitt and Whitianga Harbourmaster Mat Collicott, and using resources provided by Coastguard Boating Education, the group of 19 young people from Whitianga, Thames and Coromandel completed the Day Skipper and Maritime VHF Radio Operator certificates, and Basic Sea Survival. They also earned Level 2 and 3 NCEA credits.
Mat shared his knowledge of the area and explained the Waikato region’s bylaws, while Rob, who survived three days floating in the sea off the Kapiti coast in 2006, explained the vital importance of wearing a personal flotation device on the water.
Now a tutor with Coastguard Boating Education, Rob says the young people who took part in the three-day course already had water awareness, but no previous formal training. As well as providing an introduction to the marine industry, he says the training offered those who were interested the chance to explore future employment opportunities.
On the second day of the course, the news filtered through that two men had been adrift at sea in and around Papamoa for three hours, clinging to a chilly bin after their boat was submerged. Rob says this event gave the students a powerful sense of reality about what they were learning, reinforced by the police saying the men had averted a tragedy because they were wearing lifejackets.