Houhora, Coastguard’s most northern unit, welcomes new rescue vessel

Houhora, in the Far North, to host special blessing ceremony for Houhora Rescue, its new Lotto-funded Coastguard Rescue Vessel (CRV). CRVs made possible through unique America’s Cup partnership between Coastguard, Lotto NZ and Emirates Team NZ. 

On Saturday, the crew of Coastguard Houhora, Coastguard’s most northern unit, will welcome and give thanks for their special, high-tech new rescue vessel. 

Named Houhora Rescue, the new boat is one of 26 high-spec craft that were first used as chase boats at last year’s America’s Cup. Through a unique partnership between Lotto NZ, Coastguard and Emirates Team New Zealand, and a $9.8 million lottery grant made possible by the millions of Kiwis who play Lotto NZ games each year, these boats have been reskinned and refitted for Coastguard units across the country.

Since the first vessel launch on Great Barrier Island a year ago, the new fleet has been putting in the mahi across Aotearoa. Since November 2021, the new boats have responded to 170 incidents, assisted 417 people, rescued 12 people and even saved the life of one person. 

Coastguard Houhora President and Master Robin Gemmell says to have an asset like this at Houhora is a benefit to the whole community. 

“Having the new 10m AC36 Rayglass Protector gives the crew at Coastguard Houhora the confidence and reassurance that we will be well equipped to deal with situations that may arise in our operating area, which is an extensive area of open coast on the top of the North Island. Conditions in this area can be challenging and our equipment needs to be capable and reliable to enable our crew to operate safely. The 10m Protector well and truly fits this requirement,” he says. 

Coastguard Houhora Vice-President, Unit Training Co-ordinator Rupert Gates echoed Robin’s sentiment and explains that the new vessel is a gamechanger from a training perspective. 

“We can now train our Unit members on more modern equipment, electronics and radar, enabling us to maximise our potential in utilising the best that this technology has to offer. This will increase our ability to fulfil our aim of saving lives at sea and helping anyone whenever we can - better, stronger, faster! The new boat will also increase our fuel endurance for the days when we need to stay out longer or go further afield,” he says. 

Coastguard New Zealand CEO Callum Gillespie says the Houhora unit is a well-respected and key part of the Far North community and is fully deserving of this new vessel. 

"Since the formation of the Houhora unit, over a decade ago, volunteers from the local community have come together to save lives at sea and support all water-users across the Far North. Houhora Rescue will ensure volunteers can continue their magnificent work for many years to come." 

Across 2021/22, Coastguard Houhora volunteers contributed 851 total hours – responding to 16 incidents and assisting 60 people home safely. 

Lotto NZ Chief Executive, Chris Lyman, says supporting the vital work of Coastguard is what Lotto NZ is all about.

“Lotto NZ exists to generate essential funding for New Zealand communities – it’s why we do what we do. The positive impact these high-spec vessels will have on communities around the country cannot be underestimated, with each one helping Coastguard save lives at sea each year. This is a great example of how Lotto NZ is all about Kiwis helping Kiwis."

The refitting of the boats from America’s Cup supporters to CRVs has been taken care of by original manufacturer, Rayglass, with the support of Coastguard New Zealand, individual units and various community providers The boats may have now lost their America’s Cup branding, but Emirates Team New Zealand CEO, Grant Dalton, says their involvement in this unique partnership remains a source of pride for the whole team. 

“Coastguard are the unsung heroes of our waters around the country and so it’s great to see the fleet of vessels that supported us freshly refitted and taking to the water again to help them save lives.”

Notes for editors 

  • Media are welcome to attend the December 3 event at Houhora: please email [email protected] for more information. 


  • In partnership with Coastguard and Emirates Team New Zealand, a $9.8 million lottery grant funded 26 vessels to be used during the 36th America’s Cup, before they went on to become part of Coastguard’s fleet of rescue vessels. 
  • 100% of Lotto New Zealand's profits are distributed back to the Lottery Grants Board, providing a major source of funding for sport and recreation, arts and culture, environment and heritage and community projects throughout the country.

About Coastguard 

  • Coastguard is a charity powered by 1,963 volunteers in communities around New Zealand. 
  • Coastguard receives 30% of its funding from central government. The other $18 million is raised each year through the support of members, donors, funders and corporate partners. 
  • Last year Coastguard volunteers gave 261,000 hours to keeping New Zealanders safe on the water. 
  • Volunteer crew on rescue vessels, in our search aircraft and on the end of the radio have been dedicated to saving lives for over 150 years. 


For more information, contact:
Ben Parsons
Coastguard New Zealand Senior Communications Advisor
[email protected]

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