As with many Coastguard units, Manawatu Coastguard exists and continues due to the dedication of many mostly local people who have volunteered their skills and time to the benefit of the unit and its purpose of saving lives and assisting boaties and water users.
To name these people would be a risk that someone would be missed, instead we will acknowledge them here as a large group of caring people who have all given something over the years.
The origins of Manawatu Coastguard go back many years to a time when locals, members of the Manawatu Marine Boating club and commercial fisherman would venture out in their own boats when needed, often as you would expect, this was hand in hand with the local Police.
With encouragement from the Police, a group of people that often participated in Search and Rescue events formed the Horowhenua SAR Volunteer Coastguard. This became registered as an incorporated society on the 26th February 1992. It retained close ties to the Manawatu Marine Boating Club, where it is now based at Foxton Beach. In October 1996, the name was changed to Manawatu Volunteer Coastguard.
The name change seems to have evolved to more accurately reflect the location of the unit (Foxton Beach) and the fact that more of those involved both Coastguard and boaties, were from the Manawatu district including Palmerston North and Foxton. Also the ‘Manawatu’ identity assisted with fundraising from Palmerston North, for the dedicated rescue boat that was being planned for.
The first boat a 6.8m Naiad was named ‘The Kevin Morris’, Kevin Morris being one of the ‘caring people’ group, this rescue vessel was delivered in October 1997 and continued in service until 2013, when it was sold to Malbourough Coastguard. Building of the new AMF 7.5m vessel began in 2012 and is to be completed February 2013.
In 1999, the unit was one of the first in New Zealand to purchase a ‘Jetski’, this has proven to be an invaluable tool for quick response, working in shallow and difficult waters and as a training and retention tool for crew members. The current ski is the 3rd jetski the unit has used. At the time of the arrival of the first dedicated rescue vessel the unit had around 20 ‘wet’ crew, this number has largely been maintained over the years.
In 1996 the unit saw the need to offer Boating Education courses locally for both its own crew and other boaties, this was when our current six skippers received their certificates. Altogether tutors were already providing classes in both Palmerston North and Levin, this has continued to the present day, with Coastguard allied tutors replacing other in the community on their retirement.
The Manwatu Unit has always been keen to find practical solutions to problems, sometimes ‘bending the rules’ when needed to find the best solution to a need, like using one of those ‘Jetskis’ for rescue work when they were generally considered by others as the ‘problem’. We continue to be forward thinking to provide an effective SAR and service in our area.