Surf life savers struggle for funding to stay afloat

Surf life savers aren't just struggling to save swimmers' lives - they're struggling to get the money to save themselves.

Just last weekend, 70 people needed to be rescued and without assistance 40 of them would have died. But Surf Life Saving Northern Region is warning it will have to cut patrols and other services if its future funding isn't secured.

Surf Life Saving Northern Region CEO Matt Williams told The AM Show on Wednesday that four locations have already been cut because of the lack of money - and it's asking why Government won't help.

"I don't think it's too much to ask for an organisation like ours to have enough funding to be able to continue our services and grow in a strategic fashion," he says.

"And that's all we're actually asking - to have that level of support."

Mr Williams says that Surf Life Saving Northern Region is already $4 million behind this year.

"We have 1,600 volunteer lifeguards on the weekends, [and] the 140 paid lifeguards who patrol Monday to Friday in the peak season," he says.

"Our operations from Raglan all the way up to the top of the North Island cost $6 million per annum."

Most of the funding comes from local councils, in addition to sponsorship.

"It's cap in hand, it's variable, it's very difficult to plan or grow a business on," he says.

"It often means that at times where there was a lifeguard service, there isn't one because the funding isn't there."

This has led to residents at abandoned beaches being forced to make rescues themselves.

Mr Williams says they've had no engagement from the current nor previous Government, who ignore their pleas for help.

"We haven't begun conversations with them," he says.

"Actually very difficult to access. We get bounced around numerous ministers."