The Oceans ’23 Junior Surf Lifesaving Festival held at Mt Maunganui over the past four days was a huge success, according to Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ).
With the county under a state of national emergency, SLSNZ had considered cancelling or postponing the Festival but decided to go ahead at a late stage to bring some much-needed positivity to those able to attend.
SLSNZ’s National Sports Manager, Lewis McClintock, said “The decision to go ahead proved to be the right one. The 650 young people, aged 10-14 years, who took part had an amazing time at the Festival, which ran from 23-26 February on Mt Maunganui’s main beach.
“These events provide junior SLSNZ members opportunities to challenge themselves and celebrate the camaraderie of surf lifesaving in a fun, exciting, and safe beach and surf environment.”
The last full-scale Oceans Festival was in 2020. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, last year's Festival was cancelled, and the 2021 event had to be scaled back.
“This year, entrants came from all over the country, with the Surf Life Saving community coming together to help competitors, families and clubs, including from areas impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle like Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Auckland’s West Coast. They loaned equipment and clothing, helped with transport and anything else they could do to ensure the event’s success.
“It was great to have the Oceans Festival back on Mt Maunganui’s main beach once again, and SLSNZ is grateful for the support provided by the Tauranga City Council, which enabled the event to proceed.
“SLSNZ looks forward to returning to Tauranga again next year, and having even more of our junior members take part,” Lewis McClintock said.
Nelita Byrne, Venues and Events manager at Tauranga City Council, said: “It was an honour to host the next generation of Surf Lifeguards in our city and offer some much-needed respite to those impacted by the recent weather events.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to the surf lifesaving community who helped all the impacted rangatahi make it to Tauranga for the festival. We look forward to supporting Oceans ’24 next year!”