How Ngāti Porou Surf Lifesaving Club is making a difference

With Raumati on the way, many people will be flocking to the beach to enjoy the surf, sand, and waves.

And if you're at the East Coast - you'll likely see the Ngāti Porou Surf Lifesaving Club patrolling beaches.

Pete Boyd, a Ngāti Porou surf-life saver,  knows he's in for another busy season. He runs the Ngāti Porou Surf Lifesaving Club - patrolling remote beaches along the East Cape during summer.

"Ngāti Porou lifesaving is about a service. It's a voluntary service where you're protecting people that are going into the sea," he told The Hui.

Although the club is still young - it's already making a big difference in the community.

"We've qualified about 60 guards from Ruatoria, from Gisborne, from Hick's Bay, from Te Araroa," Boyd said. 

He not only wants to pass on his surf life-saving skills - but to draw more Māori to the profession.

"Surf lifesaving is seen as predominantly a pākehā activity. But for me, no, it's not," said Boyd. 

"It was what our tipuna's done it was like what Paikea had done - it was what Maui did."

How Ngāti Porou Surf Lifesaving Club is making a difference
Photo credit: The Hui

Boyd's sister Georgina Kerekere is building this Tikanga and mātauranga into the club.

"Through whakapapa, through korero of old through the utilisation of those narratives to breathe life, you know, to give life to those members who come into the club," she said.

The club is also working hard to change attitudes towards the Moana in Māori communities.

In the past 10 years Māori have had the second-highest ethnic fatal drowning rate.

"So when people have first aid skills [and] when people learn safety skills, all those skills will just go back into these smaller communities."

Boyd knows collecting kaimoana is an important part of life on the East Coast - but he sees whānau taking too many risks.

He said people can be pushed into a corner because of birthdays, weddings, and tangi and dive in poor conditions.

"I just know every time we're going into the sea, we're lucky we're going. But we're going to Tangaroa's domain."