Clubs confused over ban of paid rides
Manawatu surf life saving clubs are frustrated at a Maritime New Zealand ruling banning them from offering rides in rescue boats for paying members of the public.
The Opunake Surf Life Saving Club in Taranaki offered Inflatable Rescue Boat rides as a fund-raiser at its beach carnival earlier in the year.
But after a member of the public inquired into the legality of the practice Maritime New Zealand ordered the club to stop the popular attraction or face costly fines.
Foxton Surf Life Saving Club and Palmerston North Surf Life Saving Club do not charge for IRB rides but the decision has left members scratching their heads.
Palmerston North club chairman Alec MacKay said he felt sorry for Opunake's situation.
"Sometimes I think we have gone too PC you know?
"It's not as if you can go down every day and get a ride on an IRB.
"There's no signs on the beach saying, rides for $1."
Mackay said he understood the reasoning behind the decision, but was worried the hidden value in offering IRB rides could be lost in regulations.
"There's a great perspective of the sea once you get on an IRB outside the surf.
"It gives people an appreciation for the water and what is involved in our jobs as lifeguards.
"That's all Opunake would have been trying to do, as well as fundraising, and that has been taken away."
He said Palmerston North club had been too busy this summer to even think about taking people out on IRBs.
Foxton Surf Life Saving captain Hellen Windley said the club used to charge for rides back in the 1990s on really flat days.
Windley was "gutted" for Opunake and said they would love to offer it at Foxton if there was not so much red tape.
"I can see where [Maritime NZ] are coming from but it's a bit of a bummer.
"It's so much fun sharing what we do with the community and it's quite a highlight of our work so it is a shame we can't charge if we wanted to."
Foxton president Shaun Sayer said "rides for rewards" were not appropriate these days because of inevitable health and safety risks.
It was tricky because raising money was an issue for all surf clubs in New Zealand and it would be easier for them if they could offer rides for payment, he said.
"It's a bit of a hard one, because we have to think outside the box for fundraising these days.
"I don't want my lifeguards spending their time on cake stalls, but at this stage we get by on the National Jandal Day and a beach collection in January."
Mr Sayer said the club still took people out on IRBs voluntarily but it was usually an experience for prospective members and generally not something offered to members of the public.