The following text is a copy of an email sent to membership on 2018. You can view the full email, including images, at the link. To the Members and Supporters of Paekakariki Surf Lifeguards, The purpose of this email is to inform the membership of some important information regarding the PSL Clubhouse and to provide a…
The Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards clubhouse has been battered by the environment and is well past its 50-year life expectancy. Built in 1964 when lifesaving services required little more than a rope and reel, we’ve modernized both our life saving and sporting equipment, requiring substantially more space. Since its inception we’ve added a patrol room, first aid room, watch tower, storage shed and rescue boat shed, and are currently utilizing a small storage space in QEII Park, a shipping container, as well as spreading several craft around the properties of club members.
Climate change has had a very real effect on Paekākāriki Beach and the surf club is no exception. We’re experiencing much higher tides, coastal erosion, storm surges that destroyed the boat ramp, and sand shifts that are impacting the safety of swimming at the beach.
The current building is in a poor state of repair – we cannot apply anymore ‘band aids’ to keep it going. The electrics, plumbing, and foundations are sub-par. With each new earthquake to our region we’re seeing debris and degradation. The building needs a major upgrade to ensure lifesaving services are continued, and a community space is available for generations to come.
In 2011 a feasibility study for a new building was commissioned by the club’s committee. It determined that a new building be constructed in a new location. Subsequent reports have been completed which have recommended the current building be vacated by 2022. Erosion reports recommend a new building should be constructed at least 85m above the mean high-water springs.
- The current building is in a poor state that needs urgent repairs or a rebuild
- The current size of the club and projections indicate that a bigger and reconfigured building is required
- The Urban Solutions and GWRC reports have indicated that a new building would be better placed further back to mitigate against erosion
- A new building would need a new lease managed by GWRC
- An environmental impact assessment and archaeological report has been completed for the site but may need to be updated
- Beach side community spaces (i.e. halls) are scarce on the Coast and Queen Elizabeth park has become a regional destination
- Honouring the Centennial heritage and strong links to Paekākāriki village will be supported by sustaining a building presence here in Paekākāriki
- A dynamic new space opens up the surf club to more community engagement and hosting opportunities.
A century of residences
Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards is a community based, volunteer lifesaving club that has been providing an essential lifesaving service for over 100 years. In this time, it is estimated that the efforts of the club have saved well over 1000 people from life threatening situations.
The Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards (PSL) were once known as the Paekākāriki Railway Surf Club. In 1913 the club was established by a group of railway men following the drowning of their friend off Beach Road. Thanks to funding from the Railway Department, this group were able to build the first surf club building here in Paekākāriki.
PSL are one of the oldest organisations here in Kāpiti, and we lay claim to being the first country lifesaving club in all of Aotearoa. To date we’ve gone through four buildings. The first was taken out by a tidal wave in 1916, its replacement was destroyed in a 1922 storm. 1928 saw a new building constructed by local volunteers. The club then migrated to a new building with a hall up top (now known as the Memorial Hall).
Before long the surf club and its hall was being used by multiple community groups, and consideration for specialist facilities closer to the popular end of the beach (QEII Park) were required. A new building was commissioned in the 1960s, with the foundation poured in 1965 – and there we’ve stayed!
The 1965 building has been added on to and renovated numerous times. It has gone well beyond its 50-year life expectancy and is struggling to keep up with user requirements and engineering requirements.
In the early years our clubhouse was a vital part of the community, hosting euchre parties weekly, regular dances, and also the 1000 book Paekākāriki library. Lifesaving tactics have thankfully changed over the years, and where we once needed only a man and a ‘line’ to conduct a rescue, we now allow our women and men to rescue using the latest rescue boats, All-Terrain-Vehicles, and rescue boards. All of this vital equipment takes up more space – leaving less room for dancing and euchre. An undesirable ramification being a decline in local membership.
Much of this is due to the ability for people to use different parts of the coastline through better beach access and increased population along the Kāpiti Coast. Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards need to provide a wider service requiring a bigger range of equipment and subsequent storage.
Where our clubhouse was once a vibrant, stronghold of the community, its degrading condition combined with the bourgeoning storage requirements, have pushed it to the backseat of community affairs.
A new building will not only allow us to better perform lifeguarding and rescue activities but will give us the space and profile to re-engage and support our community as a communal space for hire.