INDEPENDENT NEWS

Adaptation Funding Helps Path The Future For Waihi Beach Lifeguards

Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024 01:56 PM
The future of a community hub in the heart of Waihī Beach is now looking clearer, despite the challenges it is facing due to a changing climate.
In May 2023, the situation was looking bleak for the Waihi Beach Lifeguard Services Inc. Their clubhouse had been flooded following a heavy rain event in May 2023 and its Board was working through a GNS report that had identified it as one of the three most vulnerable surf clubs to coastal hazards in the country.Waihi Beach Lifeguards Inc clubhouse following the May 2023 flood event.
Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council Climate Change Programme Manager Nic Newman, says it was following these events that the Waihi Beach Lifeguard Services connected with Regional Council and successfully applied to the community-led adaptation planning fund.
“Using this funding, the club hosted a number of workshops to help map out a plan around what risks they’re exposed to in the immediate, short and long term, and how they might adapt to overcome these challenges,” Mr Newman said.
“The club has been tremendous in the way that they’ve taken up the challenge of adaptation planning and wrapped their people and community into the process. They now have a flexible, community-led plan that will help ensure they are able to deliver their services and thrive into the future. It gives me confidence that as a community we can adapt and thrive,” he said.
Chair of the Waihi Beach Lifeguard Services, Donna Pfefferle, says following the rain event in May last year and the findings of the GNS report, they knew something had to change.
“Contacting the Council provided us with some immediate relief as their team of experts helped to guide us and they introduced us to the community-led adaptation planning fund."
“As a charity we do not have funds available to commit to projects outside our core business. The grant provided allowed us to move quickly, bring community stakeholders into the adaptive process and then develop a range of strategies for immediate and long-term implementation."
“The process of the workshops was structured in a way that hazards and impacts to the lifeguard club were recognised first. Then a series of solutions were developed, tested and pieced together. The end result was a strategic plan that the Board could start to work on to protect the Club from further inundation. The process gave the Board confidence that the final plan was backed by science, knowledge and local information. The process was just as important as the journey."
“I really encourage any community at risk due our changing climate to get in touch with Regional Council,” she said.
The Regional Council has up to $70,000 a year available to groups looking to learn more about climate-related risks they will likely face in the future and how they might adapt to them. The Waihi Beach Lifeguard Services is the eighth project to receive funds since it started in 2020.
For more information on the funds available for community adaptation planning or to learn more about the journey the Waihi Beach Lifeguard Services took to develop an adaptation plan, visit www.boprc.govt.nz/adaptation-planning

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