Father and son rescue team saving lives at sea


Terry and Liam Sampson are father and son, and both are search and rescue volunteers with Coastguard Wellington. They’re just two of the many volunteers who dedicate their lives to Coastguard.

Through their years with Coastguard, Terry and Liam have experienced the many highs and lows of volunteering together.

One incident will always stick in Terry’s mind:

“There was one rescue that we were involved in where there were some divers missing in the Cook Strait,” says Terry. “It was a full on massive call out – there would have been seven boats out there and the helicopter.”

Terry, Liam and the rest of the Coastguard Wellington crew scoured the vast channel to try and find the divers. They managed to find one and haul him into the vessel to safety – but the other diver was still in danger.

“We saw the other one and he was face down in the water,” says Terry. “Liam leaned over and grabbed hold of him and dragged him into the boat – he was in a particularly bad way but started to come right.

“Just watching Liam reach in and drag that guy out of the water was a pretty amazing thing to see. Not just because he’s my son but because he’d just saved someone’s life.

“To be part of that is incredible. There’s been some pretty cold and miserable days, but being able to do that, it stays with you.”

When Liam joined the Coastguard Wellington crew at 16, his dad Terry became his mentor and taught him everything he knew.

“I was part of the senior crew when Liam started, so I did a lot of the teaching,” says Terry.

“But it didn’t take very long before I found myself learning from him.”

The two are both Masters on their rescue vessel – one of the highest positions you can reach at Coastguard. It’s their way of giving back, and chance to do something meaningful together where they know they’re helping people.

“It’s great volunteering and giving back to the community,” says Liam. “But it’s when you actually save someone’s life that it becomes really meaningful. It makes it all worth it.

“There’s been a few occasions when we’ve rocked up to the scene and someone’s in trouble, and the relief they feel when they’re saved is really something.”

While Terry and Liam dedicate their lives to helping others at sea, they couldn’t do it without your support. You could help bring people home safely by making a donation to our amazing volunteer crews.

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Thanks to our life-saving partners:
  • Auckland Council
  • Northland Regional Council
  • Waikato Regional Council
  • Hutchwilco
  • Marine Deals
  • Tower
  • Kordia
  • Hyundai
  • Line7
  • Century Batteries
  • Half Moon Bay
  • NZCT
  • Lotteries Grants Board
  • Lion Foundation
  • Pub Charity