Coastguard New Zealand generally is focused on marine search and rescue and boating education. Its units operate 78 small rescue boats.
The Royal New Zealand Coastguard is a unique charity that has many similarities to both the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary. It is a civilian organization tasked with search-and-rescue and boating safety responsibilities. To accomplish these two important missions, the Coastguard relies on charitable fundraising, a dedicated cadre of volunteers, and a small paid staff.
While it can trace its roots to 1898 and the creation of the Sumner Lifeboat Institute, the modern-day Coastguard New Zealand was stood up in 1976 as part of a streamlining and reorganization effort that placed all the volunteer maritime search-and-rescue units scattered across the country under one flag to establish a unified organization. According to its official website, highlights of Coastguard New Zealand activities for the most recent fiscal year ending 30 June 2017 included:
• Bringing 6,797 people home safely, to include 23 lives saved, 140 individuals rescued, and 409 persons assisted
• Carrying out 2,702 rescues
• Receiving 281,757 radio calls
• Dedicating 309,367 volunteer hours to saving lives
• Achieving 11,200 boating education enrollments
• Training 36,250 safe boating participants
Today, the patron of Coastguard New Zealand is His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Leading the 2,052 highly trained and dedicated volunteers in 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week, 365-day-a-year operations are Henry van Tuel, president of Coastguard New Zealand, and Patrick Holmes, chief executive officer of the Coastguard New Zealand staff.
The core values of this maritime search-and-rescue organization are respect, integrity, professionalism, altruism, dedication, and cooperation. Moreover, the Coastguard’s guiding principles are reputation, financial sustainability, community, and people. Current projects being undertaken by the organization are health and safety, rollout of the Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS), the national VHF communications network, vessel standardization, membership drives, and fundraising.
Headquartered in Auckland, Coastguard New Zealand is administratively divided into four regions—Coastguard Northern Region, Coastguard Eastern Region, Coastguard Southern Region, and Coastguard Central Region. Subordinate units reporting to the regional commands include 63 units, 78 small rescue vessels equipped with rescue equipment, and two aircraft.
Private fundraising efforts are critical for the Coastguard to carry out its vision of “no boaties’ lives lost at sea” and its mission “to be the ‘go to’ people for marine safety, education, and search and rescue services.” Donors and grantees provided all the charity’s budget of $10 million, with grants accounting for 49 percent of revenue and lottery ticket sales accounting for an additional 27 percent. Examination fees, private donations from its 23,783 members, sales of publications, and interest received rounded out the rest of the income streams for Coastguard New Zealand. This is up from the previous year’s total of $9.3 million.
Expenditures totaled $9.9 million, with 41 percent going toward support for the regions and units, 18 percent for professional services, another 18 percent for direct lotteries expenditures, and 7 percent for boating education services. Public safety and communications, income stream development, governance, and accommodations rounded out the remaining expenditures.
To enhance its ability to conduct search-and-rescue missions, the “Charity Saving Lives at Sea,” as Coastguard New Zealand is known, has partnered with multiple organizations, including the International Maritime Rescue Federation, New Zealand Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Police, Safer Boating Forum, and New Zealand Search and Rescue.