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Newquay RNLI lifeguard helps rescue 69 people in New Zealand flood response

Lifeguards News Release

An RNLI lifeguard from Newquay has been putting his skills to use in New Zealand providing assistance in the North Island following devastating floods.

RNLI lifeguard Harry Barea on patrol in New Zealand

Harry Barea is currently working for Surf Lifesaving New Zealand as a lifeguard in the North Island during the RNLI's off-season, and was working on the north shore at Takapuna when Auckland declared the city under a state of emergency last week.

He explains: ‘Due to heavy rainfall and flooding, I received a call out from the flood rescue team at Mairangi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club on Friday evening (27 January) to provide assistance and naturally I accepted the offer.

‘There was significant flooding damage to workplaces surrounding Wairau Valley – abandoned cars, collapsed houses and panicked members of the public were a common sight. With limited resources and zero experience in flood rescues, I used my initiative and adapted to the unfamiliar environment and challenges of operating at night with strong flowing currents.

‘As a team using the inshore rescue boats we ferried 69 workers and shoppers from workplaces to safety that night. It was an honour to help the community during these unprecedented times.’

Harry was interviewed by local news on his efforts. You can watch the interview here.

Sam Walters, Director of Lifeguarding for Mairangi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, said: ‘We had a surf lifesaving regional championships down in Mt Maunganui. Mairangi Bay had a big number of lifeguards heading down there to compete. Having Harry near the club was really valuable that night. He has represented the club and Surf Lifesaving really well and will definitely be welcomed back next season.’

Harry was also part of the Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service which were recognised with the ‘bp rescue of the month’ award for an incident which took place on Christmas Day, outside of regular patrol hours. Five fishermen became trapped by the incoming tide and surf at Sunset Beach, and Harry was part of the lifeguard team which responded and rescued the group. His club received praise from the Surf Lifesaving New Zealand National Lifesaving Manager Andy Kent, who praised ‘everyone working together and reacting quickly which resulted in a successful rescue in challenging conditions.’

Back on Cornwall soil, Harry has worked for the RNLI lifeguard service for several years and regularly patrols RNLI lifeguarded beaches across Newquay.

Lewis Timson is the Lead Lifeguard Supervisor for the Newquay area. He said: ‘Several of our RNLI lifeguards travel overseas during our winter to work as lifeguards in the southern hemisphere and it’s fantastic to hear that Harry has made such an impact with the surf lifesaving clubs in New Zealand. The training that RNLI lifeguards receive is world class, and it just shows, as Harry has been able to make a significant impact in a short space of time. We’re all incredibly proud of him and his efforts to support the local community during such devastation, and we look forward to welcoming him back in the spring and recognising his hard work.’

The RNLI is currently recruiting lifeguards in the UK for the 2023 season and Lifeguard Experience Manager Lee Fisher said: ‘Beach lifeguarding is a great opportunity and a very rewarding role that changes lives – including your own – all whilst enjoying the beach as your office.

‘It’s a great opportunity whether you want a rewarding summer job or to pursue a career in lifesaving.’

Find out more about becoming a lifeguard at

Notes to editors

A photo of Harry is attached. Also included is an image of the flood scenes, taken by a member of the Mairangi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Emma Haines, RNLI Regional Media Officer, on 07786 668847 or [email protected]

Mairangi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club

Surf Lifesaving New Zealand flood respone

Mairangi Bay Surf Lifesaving Club

New Zealand flooding.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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