Otago Daily Times

Coastguard merger good for South, president says


A MOVE to centralise coastguard operations could bring big benefits to Southern crews, the organisati­on’s Dunedin president says.

The initial stages of Project Horizon, an initiative to integrate the four regional entities into into one national body, are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

It means regional boards have been replaced by one national board, responsibl­e for things like fundraisin­g and recruitmen­t.

Coastguard Dunedin president John Campbell said funding had increased a lot since the new organisati­on was announced.

Resourcing would be divided up around the country, giving a boost to the South, he said.

‘‘For us down here it’s very positive,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s no doubling up with boards everywhere.’’

There was a rule that the national board had to have at least one representa­tive from the South Island, he said. The incoming board had two.

Coastguard volunteers and members voted in favour of the merger at a special general meeting in March.

At the time, coastguard chief executive Callum Gillespie said the need for change was clear.

“Bringing the national body and the four regional entities together will enable coastguard to be more efficient and effective in the developmen­t and delivery of strategies to meet challenges we face today and in the future.”

The most pressing of those challenges was to address decreasing volunteer numbers.

The Dunedin group has already had 10 new volunteers since it moved operations from Portobello to the Harbour Basin earlier this year.

“Last year, we undertook a comprehens­ive survey of our volunteers, and it is evident that we need to take action if we are going to retain our incredible volunteers and attract new people to join coastguard,’’ Mr Gillespie said.

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