Meridian comes to aid of coastguard

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 08:16 08/02/2013

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Twizel's coastguard unit will soon have a place to call its own, thanks to a $40,000 donation from Meridian.

The building will be near the police station, and will be a joint facility for both the coastguard and Land Search and Rescue.

The unit has 23 volunteer members.

It was formalised 18 months ago, but team leader Dene Madden said it had been operating "out of an old shed".

"We're based in the old dental school building at the local school, which, as you can imagine, is pretty cramped," Mr Madden said. "Combining with Land Search and Rescue makes sense for both organisations, particularly considering that organisation's closest quarters are at Aoraki-Mt Cook."

Mr Madden said the facility would cost about $75,000 to build.

It was hoped to be completed by the end of May.

Meridian's $40,000 donation came out of its Waitaki community fund.

"We've still got some extra fundraising to do, but this certainly pushes it along the way," Mr Madden said.

He said it was also fortunate that Coastguard Dunedin recently donated the Twizel branch a 6.8 metre rescue boat.

"The Dunedin guys have recently got a new boat, so they gave one of their old ones to us. It's the perfect size for our operations," Mr Madden said.

The Twizel branch of the coastguard was established in response to increased activity at the lakes, particularly over the summer holidays. Mr Madden said the Twizel unit responded to four "minor" incidents over the recent holidays. The group covers the area from Lake Tekapo to the Waitaki.

"We have eight of our members trained to operational standard; many of the others are not far behind. It's been a lot of hard work getting the qualifications, but you've got to do this right and professionally," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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