Ngāti Porou lifeguards following the legacy of their ancestor Paikea

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

In the East Coast, popular recreational activities include waka ama, swimming, surfing and fishing- and they aren't without risk.  Ngāti Porou Surf Life Saving Club is celebrating the induction of 18 new recruits and a brand new Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB).

New recruit Uetaha Wanoa says, “I believe there's real substance in this because, as Māori, there are songs, haka and chants related to seafaring and, through this activity, we can embody those narratives.”

Ngāti Porou oral tradition recalls the journey of the eponymous ancestor Paikea, who arrived to Aotearoa on the back of a whale.

Ngāti Porou Surf Lifesaving Club founder Peter Boyd says, “He had to know how to swim, he had to know the currents, the waves, so Paikea is the original lifeguard...we take his example of becoming water-safe, water-minded, moana, ocean-minded and it's being able to use these surf lifesaving skills into a Māori context.”

Surf Lifesaving NZ (SLSNZ) has recorded 22,000 rescues in IRBs.  To support the club, BP is gifting an IRB to the club, continuing a 51-year relationship in support of SLSNZ.

Managing Director at BP Debi Boffa says, “40% of all rescues that Surf Lifesaving does every year use an IRB, so by giving them this IRB we can help support them to support their community better.”

Peter Boyd says, “Surf lifesaving has been around for over 100 years and it's great that we can adapt a system that works- and skills- and take them into our Māori communities.”

Now in its 5th year, NPSLC collectively patrols nearly 200km of the East Coast.

Uetaha Wanoa says, “To me this is a great way to develop our waka ama skills, we can look at the sea and know what's what.  To me the main thing is helping families and saving those who are drowning.”

The new recruits will continue their training with the new IRB through winter.