Mangere Bridge rescue boat wanted

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013
ames Papali'i and Jim Jackson
ANNA LOREN / Fairfax NZ

CONCERN: James Papali'i and Jim Jackson at Mangere Bridge boat ramp.

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A 24/7 rescue vessel could be situated at the new Mangere Bridge boat ramp after lobbying by local residents.

Auckland Council officers are looking into the possibility after it was raised by James Papali'i and Jim Jackson.

Papali'i was the recipient of a New Zealand Police Bravery Award after he and members of his waka ama club helped rescue a man who jumped 30 metres from the southwestern motorway bridge last year.

The incident, along with recent drownings, has highlighted the need for a rescue vessel to be available at the bridge at all times, he said.

The Papakura Coastguard can be called in emergencies but the fast-flowing tide means people can die before the vessel arrives.

Brian Pilkington, of the Manukau Yacht and Motor Boat Club, is also supporting the call for a rescue vessel to be stationed at the ramp.

He said he has been involved in many situations on the harbour where having such a vessel nearby would have made a huge difference.

In one situation, two elderly people were dumped in the water when their small boat flipped. Boaties went to their rescue but by the time they reached the victims they were "in early stages of shock and hypothermia", Pilkington said.

"It was dark by the time we got them to shore."

The yacht club was also approached by police for help when So'saia Paasi and his 7-year-old son Tio drowned in the Manukau Harbour in May last year because police did not have a suitable rescue boat on hand.

"There was no-one available who had a vehicle capable of towing the patrol boat so they dragged the small inflatable and outboard out. By the time they had dragged it through the mud the crew were tired and late to reach the scene."

Jackson and Papali'i say a small shed would need to be built near the ramp, possibly on the corner of Waterfront and Coronation roads, to house the rescue vessel and a tractor capable of towing it.

The Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board has referred the rescue vessel proposal to council officers for assessment.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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