Coastguard Wanganui operations base reopens
“The timing is perfect for the reopening of our operations base on the Wanganui River,” says Kevin McKenna, President of Coastguard Wanganui. “The busy summer season is just starting and we are now much better placed to provide our SAR (search and rescue) Watch and radio services as boaties head out on the water. In search and rescue emergencies we are now able launch the rescue boat much more efficiently.”
A little over a year after launching a fundraising campaign to extend the operations base the building is now complete and will be officially reopened on Saturday the 22nd of November.
Coastguard Wanganui volunteers had struggled for space in which to store vital search and rescue equipment and to suitably house volunteers for training programmes, running search and rescue operations, and manning the radio watch service for over 800 local boaties. Built several decades ago the Coastguard building was designed for its time. As the number of Kiwi’s who participate in recreational water activities continuing to grow, Coastguard too needed to grow to meet the demand.
“The support from right across the community has been astounding, we are feeling very humbled that so many of the good people in Wanganui and from further afield have supported this project,” said McKenna. “Our members were all asked if they would help and so many of them dug deeply into their wallets, they supported us and they can continue to count on our volunteers to be there for them if they ever need us. A number of trusts and organisations made large contributions and we are immensely grateful to them all but I would particularly like to thank the William McAlpine Duncan Trust, New Zealand Community Trust, Grassroots Trust, The Lion Foundation, Powerco Wanganui Trust, JBS Dudding Trust, the estate of Patricia Isabella Cook, Whanganui Community Foundation and the PIF Foundation. Last but certainly not least we are very appreciative of the support we received from the Wanganui Chronicle who helped with both raising funds and sharing the story of our project from the very start.”
Volunteers have already had limited use of the extended building and are reporting much improved functionality but the real test will be next weekend when a Police organized search and rescue exercise will be run from the Coastguard building. This is the first time this has been done as previously there was not enough space.
A ceremony for invited guests will be held on Saturday followed by an Open Day for the public on Sunday. The building will be officially opened by Coastguard Wanganui sponsor Energy Direct, represented by Keith Ramage and patron Gerald McDouall.
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Coastguard is the charity that provides New Zealand’s primary maritime search and rescue service. The organisation operates from a network of four regions and 70 affiliated units, located around the coastline and major lakes of New Zealand. Coastguard New Zealand is a volunteer organisation with a charitable status. It has more than 2,320 active search and rescue Volunteers who provide over 315,000 hours of their time each year to educate, protect and help save lives at sea. Coastguard performed over 2,840 rescues to bring 7,334 New Zealanders home safely this past year. There are 78 dedicated rescue vessels in Coastguard New Zealand’s fleet, nine air patrol units and one dedicated communications unit. All crew members on board Coastguard vessels and air patrol craft are trained search and rescue personnel working to enhance the safety of all New Zealanders when they participate in boating and water activities.
Last year Coastguard Wanganui volunteers responded to:
7,726 radio calls
29 calls for help
And brought 67 people home to safety
Our volunteers gave 6,155 hours of service to our community.