Honours for surf stalwarts as season begins

Ōrewa lifesaving awardees, from left, John Chapman, Jon Copeland, Zac Franich, Benny Larsen and Mark ‘Macca’ McCarthny.

As Ōrewa Surf Life Saving Club gears up for a hoped-for drier season after last year’s wettest summer on record, five of its members have been recognised for their community service by Surf Life Saving NZ.

At its annual awards ceremony in Wellington, SLSNZ honoured the club’s Mark ‘Macca’ McCarthny with a 50-year badge, for volunteer commitment to the community.

For most of those years of service, Macca has been a lifeguard at Ōrewa and Piha, and he remains an active volunteer lifeguard on Ōrewa beach. The club says he’s also been a key factor in Ōrewa’s success in surf boat racing since the 1980s.

Long time club coach Zac Franich and director of surf sport Jon Copeland both received service awards, and Benny Larsen, a club member since the 1970s, received a distinguished service award.

Benny is currently a member of the board, and volunteers as an examiner and surf sport official in the Northern Region and nationally.

The top award went to club stalwart John Chapman, who received SLSNZ life membership in recognition of his commitment to surf lifesaving.

John has been involved at local, regional and national level for more than 40 years, serving as president or chairperson of the Ōrewa club for more than half of that time. He is only the fourth member of the club to receive the honour. One of the earlier three was his father, also John.

Meanwhile membership committee chair Renée Beckett says the club is “looking forward to a warmer and hopefully drier summer!”

The senior training schedule began on October 9, and although most have been training through the winter, “you will start to see a few more dusting off the winter layers as it gets a bit warmer”.

She says the club normally has around 400 children across the 3-13 year age range.

A highlight for juniors is the nationals (also known as Oceans ’24), a four day competition at Mount Maunganui in February.

Anyone wanting to become a lifeguard needs to go through a training program, offered three times a year. Enrolment is via the club’s website: www.orewasurfclub.co.nz

First woman life member
Michelle Newton of the Red Beach Surf Life Saving Club was honoured with a Surf Lifesaving NZ life membership, becoming just the third member of the club – and its first female member – to attain the achievement. Michelle joined the club in 1987, quickly becoming a qualified lifeguard and then an instructor for Surf Lifeguard Awards just a year later. During three years as chief instructor she put through a total of 91 lifeguard awards, and in 1992/3 she won Auckland Surf’s Instructor of the Year trophy. She competed for the club for seven consecutive years and was a member of a winning Ladies March Past team at the Nationals in 1990. Other highlights include officiating at the world champs in Auckland in 1998. Michelle has been a member of the Auckland Surf Lifesaving board of judges and a Northern Region official for the last 29 consecutive seasons, and a nationals judge and official for 27 years. After chairing the Red Beach Surf Club Committee for two three-year terms, she was made a Life Member of the club in 2020, and the following year became a Life Member of the Northern Region, becoming just the seventh woman to achieve that honour. “In her 36 years with Red Beach Surf Club, Michelle has made an enormous contribution to the surf lifesaving movement, not just at club level but also at regional and national levels,” said Red Beach executive officer Ross Malyon.