Coastguard thanks community
After more than six decades of service, stalwarts of the East Auckland community want to say thank you. Howick Volunteer Coastguard is holding a public open day at Howick Beach Reserve on Saturday, November 18. From 10am to 2pm the car park at its base will be a hive of activity, with food trucks, flare demonstrations, children’s activities, music, information and interviews by East FM. People will also have an opportunity to ride on the Howick Rescue One vessel. Spokeswoman Jenny Rowsell says ’’the community was responsible for putting the boat here in the first place, so it’s giving back to the community for what they did 60 years ago’’. ‘‘They fundraised and within nine months of those boys drowning, the unit was here. The community did that. We’re trying to give back to the community, what they gave to us.’’ Howick Volunteer Coastguard was established in 1956 after three local teenagers drowned. The service started as part of the Howick Volunteer Fire Brigade under the name Howick Sea Rescue. The unit was initially crewed and managed by members of the local fire brigade. Then in 1984 it became the Howick Volunteer Coastguard and a member of the Royal NZ Coastguard. These days more than 40 East Auckland volunteers carry pagers, ready to respond to callouts 24 hours a day. ‘‘We’ve got two pager calls. One says ’boat call-out’ - that means somebody has broken down, so the duty crew will go,’’ Rowsell says. ‘‘The other one, ‘urgent boat call-out’, means somebody is in trouble and once the boat is manned correctly - because we can go with three [crew], however, if it was the middle of the Firth of Thames on a bad night, we’d want seven. ‘‘For that urgent boat call-out, our response time is less than 10 minutes normally. That’s because everyone is local and we pride ourselves on that.’’ The Howick unit attended 150 incidents last year and while most were local, their remit takes them to the Coromandel, Te Atatu and even to Northland waters. President Alan Martin says ‘‘if we’re the closest boat, we’ll go’’. Along with the open day, a book celebrating 60 years of Howick Volunteer Coastguard’s ‘‘adventures’’ is also being compiled.
People will have the chance to ride on Howick Rescue One (front) at the open day.