Join a lifesaving team

Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard Operations Unit Manager Dane Robertson. Photo: John Borren.

Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard are keen to enlist new crew volunteers to help over the summer months.


“No experience is necessary, as all training will be provided,” says Operations Unit Manager Dane Robertson.


Funded entirely by public donations, fundraising, generous sponsors, members donations and subscriptions, Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard has been operating since the mid-80s. Before that it operated as mainly a volunteer-based group of people using their own private vessels, before becoming more formalised under the NZ Coastguard umbrella.


Dane has been running the unit for the last three years.


“The Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard is a great organisation to work for, we have about 60 volunteers, and they’re absolutely amazing. My job is to make sure that when they come to give their time, everything’s there for them, everything works, and it’s easy for them to do the job.”


He has been involved in a range of activities, from rescuing people in the water after their boat was taking on water, to helping tow a boat that may have a broken ignition key.


“Helping people is a really cool part of the job.”


Dane says another highlight of his work is seeing the amount of time and effort that volunteers put in.


“It’s awesome to be a part of an organisation that puts so much back into the community.”


People join for a number of reasons.


“One of our most experienced skippers joined after seeing markers sticking out of the water and wanted to know what they’re for. He went down to Coastguard to ask, became interested, joined a crew and is now a very experienced skipper.”


Others have joined because it’s an opportunity to be on board a boat.


“We have people who are very experienced in yachting and want to give back, others who have little runabout boats, and others who have never owned a boat in their life.


“You don’t need to have a lot of boating experience. It helps but we provide that knowledge.”


Study includes learning necessary skills around navigation, knots, helming, using GPS and radar, understanding weather and tides, and of course gaining search and rescue knowledge and experience.


Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard is one of the few units in NZ which runs a radio room. 


“This means our volunteers also take watch of the VHF channels in the area.  We are one of the busiest units in the country, in fact one could argue we are the busiest. The Tauranga unit does more assists in a year than all of the South Island units combined.”


To be rescued by a Coastguard unit can be a very costly exercise if a boat owner isn’t a member of the Coastguard. Without membership, boat owners in trouble needing Coastguard are faced with a $280 an hour fee.


“Our average assist takes about one-and-a-half hours.”


Over the last year, Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard attended over 200 callouts, helping over 500 people return home safely.


Membership at $100 is very low, this is comprised of a $10 fee and an additional suggested donation of $90.


“Should the situation arise and you need assistance on the water for you and your vessel you can be assured that our volunteers will come to your assistance. This includes recovering you and if possible, your vessel to the nearest port of safety.


“You are also covered by every unit in the country if you happen to be out of the Tauranga area.”


For more information on being part of the Tauranga Volunteer Coastguard lifesaving team email: or call 07 577 077.

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