Search and rescue gets funding boost to save lives

Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today a $58.4 million boost over four years for New Zealand Search and Rescue, recreational boating safety and safety awareness to help save lives.

Phil Twyford said safety is this Government’s top transport priority.                                          

“This 112 per cent funding boost will help search and rescue organisations with their missions, governance, volunteer retention, health and safety, prevention initiatives and communication technology.

“It builds on the $60.5 million for Coastguard NZ and Surf Life Saving NZ, and the $2 million for Water Safety NZ announced in Budget 2020. The funding is also additional to around $54 million already allocated for search and rescue in this four year period.

“Non-governmental organisations such as LandSAR, Coastguard, Surf Life Saving NZ and Amateur Radio Emergency Communications have been affected by the pandemic. This funding increase will help support them during our economic recovery.

“Between July 2018 and June 2019, 144 lives were saved, 800 people were assisted and 653 people were rescued through the work of the sector. This is through the dedicated work of more than 11,000 people involved in the sector – 95 per cent of whom are volunteers.     

“Recreational boating is New Zealand’s largest maritime sector group with over 1.5 million people involved and today’s boost will also support water safety and outdoor safety awareness. This is especially important given last year’s spike in boating-related deaths,” Phil Twyford said.

Water safety is a critical issue for New Zealand. Drowning is the leading cause of recreational death and the third highest cause of accidental death.

New Zealand has one of the largest search and rescue regions in the world. Covering over 30 million square kilometres, extending from the mid-Tasman Sea, half way to Chile, and from the South Pole almost up to the Equator. That also includes the approximately 15,000km of coastline around New Zealand, and our many lakes, rivers, forests and mountains.