NRC proposal puts lives at risk - Coastguard

Northland, 8 April 2024 - Urgent action is needed to protect lives on Northland's waters. As a charity dedicated to saving lives on the water, Coastguard plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of Kiwis enjoying Northland's extensive coastline. With more coastline than any other region and a thriving boating community, Northland relies heavily on Coastguard's services to ensure the well-being of those on the water.

The Northland Regional Council's proposal to cease the Emergency Services Fund (ESF) threatens the vital services provided by Coastguard, NEST, Surf Life Saving, Hato Hone St John, and Far North Radio. This decision puts lives at risk and could lead to a rise in preventable drowning rates.

The ESF plays a critical role in supporting Coastguard Units across Northland, including those in Hokianga, Houhora, Whangaroa, Bay of Islands, Whangaruru, Tutukaka, Whangarei, Northland Air Patrol, and North Kaipara. On average, these units collectively undertake 237 operations a year (lifesaving and preventative). Funds received from the ESF ($84,000) are vital for meeting the operational costs of these units and ensuring their ability to respond effectively to emergencies. Without it, the future of these lifesaving services is in jeopardy.

Northland has one of the worst drowning tolls in New Zealand due to its long coastline, warm climate, and the attraction of its marine environment for recreation, commerce, and kai gathering. On average, 10 people drown a year in Northland. In 2022, 18 people drowned, making the region the second worst in drowning and water-related injuries nationwide. While 2023 saw improvement, it was only due to the dedicated efforts of organizations like Coastguard, Rescue Helicopter, and Surf Life Saving.

Coastguard Chief Executive Callum Gillespie believes that the Northland Regional Council has a responsibility to protect the lives of the residents and visitors to Northland. The Emergency Services Fund is an effective way of discharging this responsibility. Failure to support Coastguard through the ESF may affect our ability to provide these services in the future.

Mr Gillespie encourages Northlanders to have their say. "You have the power to make a difference. The Northland Regional Council has released a consultation document on its draft Long-Term Plan, calling for public feedback before April 19. We urge you to support the continuation of the Emergency Services Fund. For just $12 a year per household, you can help fund these critical rescue services in your community."

To make a submission and have your voice count, visit 

"Life is priceless, and everyone deserves a chance of survival if they get into trouble. Northland is a water paradise; join us in ensuring everyone that ventures out on the water has access to the help they need."


Kimberley Waters
Coastguard New Zealand Communications Manager
[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