Monday 25 August

Monday 25 August, from 7.30pm

Piha Rescue, now in its fifth year, follows the efforts of the volunteer lifeguards at New Zealand’s busiest beach – Piha. Starting tonight at 7.30pm on TV ONE, this season sees heart-pumping action as the lifeguards maintain a constant vigil in order to prevent many tragedies on this wild stretch of coast.

Piha senior lifeguard Greg Wilson says despite initial concern the show might deter Kiwis visiting the beach, increased numbers of people seem to visit Piha every year: “The show has definitely increased people’s awareness about swimming between the flags, but people I talk to who aren’t involved with lifeguarding or surf orientated, are always surprised at how many idiots there are out there who are still willing to risk their lives by not taking some basic advice.”
With swimming no longer compulsory at school and increased numbers of migrants entering New Zealand, Wilson says, “More and more people don’t know how to swim, which means more trouble at the beaches, it’s really just a lot of tragedies waiting to happen”.

Starting as a teenager, initially interested in the sporting side of surf lifesaving, Wilson has been patrolling the beach for more than 16 years. “It’s not for everyone, it involves a serious commitment, but it’s good fun. That really sums it up, there’s a good sense of family, good sense of pride in what you do, you are doing a good thing, with a bunch of like-minded people and primarily out there to have fun.”

He explains how Piha Rescue has increased awareness of surf lifesaving nationwide. “It’s really just opening people’s eyes and showing there is a fun side to it, it’s not all super serious. That is what Piha Rescue has really gone out of its way to portray – that we are not just lifeguards, there’s a lifestyle behind it all and it’s been really good for the movement.”

For Wilson, different lifeguard incidents stand out for different reasons: “You’ve got the tragedies of course that are always at the top of you mind – the horrific sort of stuff that you have to deal with. The drownings, the families of the drowned people, the blood and guts stuff, they are always the most vivid memories. The success stories are great, but you do so many of the successful rescues that it only takes one unsuccessful one to really stand out.”

For the younger lifeguards starting out, Wilson believes it’s important for them to realise what a difference they have made after a successful rescue.

Episode one sees a guard badly injured and a critical after-hours emergency – it’s a race against time when a patient isn’t breathing.

Also starting tonight on TV ONE at 8pm is the Australian factual series The Force. Join the cops who patrol the mean streets of Western Australia and experience the raw reality of life as a police officer. These cops are no strangers to crime – from drug raids to domestic disputes, these law enforcers have seen it all. Hosted by Simon Reeve, The Force captures the action behind each story, from the investigation and arrest, to the conviction – the reactions from the police, the accused, and even their loved ones, give viewers a full picture of events.

Subscribe to our mailing list

About the author