© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2018

Surf Life Saving NZ after Government funding

Laura Grigg
Piha Surf Life Saving Club IRBs with Lion Rock
Surf life saving boats sit on the sand. Wikimedia Commons

Surf Life Saving New Zealand believes it is time for the government to begin to help fund their services.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand's 74 charity clubs across the country rely on community grants and business donations to keep their essential public service running.

Chief Executive, Paul Dalton, said Surf Life Saving New Zealand has begun conversations with the government to help swap the current high-risk, short term funding for a more long term sustainable funding.

"Our biggest challenge is the lack of certainty of income from one year to the next as most of it is short term (annual grants) that you have no assurance you will get," Dalton said.

A lot of Surf Life Saving New Zealand's funding comes from a declining pot of grants money such as pub charities, gambling and gaming trusts. A lot of pokie machines from 'class 4' gambling are being phased out due to anti-gambling campaigns. 

"Currently we are highly vulnerable to a sudden income shock if one of the grants we rely on was significantly cut," Dalton explains "This vulnerability is one we want to fix as it is not a healthy position for an organisation responsible for such a big part of public safety".

New Brighton Surf Life Saving club said "That without a constant revenue stream its hard to know if you'll have enough funding when gear needs to be replaced".

"The last five years have gotten tighter and tighter", says Matt Nash, Captain of New Brighton Surf Life Saving Club, "There use to be a lot more money in the pot, now its really hard to get money out of those grants, as you are also competing against all these other charities as well"

There are around 27,000 other charities in New Zealand that are contesting for the same funding. 

New Brighton Surf Club are currently trying to gather the funds to rebuild the club from earthquake damage and corrosion, members say that funds from the government would be a massive help. 

"More money would help to grow the movement and to provide better equipment and resources for the clubs", Nash said. 

The Government could also reconsider New Zealand's current situation for tax credits from donations to help with funding for charitable organisations.

When people donate money in New Zealand they can only claim 33 percent tax rebate on their donation, compared to Australia where you can claim the full amount of money you donate.

Matt Nash suggested that if there were better incentives for general public to donate to charities through tax credits this would really help to get businesses and New Zealander's to donate to the cause.

Annually, Surf Life Saving rescues around 1000 people from life threatening situations and over 5000 volunteers commit to nearly 250,000 hours patrolling beaches around New Zealand.