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United North Piha Lifeguard Service

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Title: United North Piha Lifeguard Service  
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Subject: Surf Life Saving Northern Region, Surf Life Saving New Zealand clubs, New articles (New Zealand)/Archive 2005-3
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United North Piha Lifeguard Service

United North Piha Lifeguard Service is a club located on North Piha beach on the West Coast of Auckland, New Zealand. It is one of 17 such clubs in the Northern Region of New Zealand.

United North Piha Lifeguard Service Inc.
Abbreviation UNPLS
Formation 1973
Type Not For Profit
Legal status Incorpoarated Society, Charity
Headquarters North Piha, Auckland, New Zealand
  • North Piha Beach Kohunui Bay
Affiliations Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR)
Website UNPLS Website


  • History 1
    • North Piha 1.1
    • Eastern United 1.2
    • United North Piha 1.3
  • Today 2


United North Piha was created from the amalgamation of Eastern United and North Piha Surf Lifesaving clubs in 1973.

North Piha

North Piha was formed in 1951. In North Piha’s first season, Peter Bevin won the NZ Open Surf Ski Rescue and Reg Hammond won the NZ Beach Sprint title. In 1953, Reg repeated his achievement while Peter Bevin won his second NZ Senior Belt Race.

The club's competition colours were green and white and the logo was a penguin.

By the 1970s North Piha Surf Club was suffering from low membership. It was the first Auckland club to admit women in an attempt to make up numbers. Until 1973, half a dozen women made up the backbone of the club.

Eastern United

Eastern United was originally the Browns Bay SLSC. The club was founded by Alan Gardner in 1933. At the end of 1934 Browns Bay SLSC began patrolling Torbay as well as Browns Bay and changed its name to Eastern United. Eastern United won its first national title – the Senior March Past – in 1935.

Eastern United had success in competition at the national level, in 1964 winning the Alan Gardner trophy for the best overall club performance in the NZ Championships (nationals). The club was a strong competitor throughout the 50s and 60s.

The club competition colours are yellow and blue—the cap being yellow with a blue band from front to back. Traditionally the logo was a yellow lightning bolt.

In the 1970s the club's clubrooms were going to be taken over by the council and the club needed to relocate. Many members suggested moving to Muriwai, but thanks to the efforts of Crutchie Crowther, Eastern United decided to amalgamate with North Piha.

United North Piha

The amalgamation solved the problem of North Piha's low membership numbers (opening it to the vast population of the east coast) and Eastern United's clubhouse problems.

There was much discussion on what the name of the new club should be, with United North Piha finally being decided on. During the difficulties many members were lost to clubs such as Muriwai and Piha. Nevertheless, United North Piha became a strong competitor throughout the early 80s.

The club competition colours are yellow and blue—the cap being yellow and blue quarters. Traditionally the logo was a yellow lightning bolt.

Due to the extremely dangerous beach it patrols, United North Piha has always been an innovator in patrolling methods. They were one of the first clubs to try out jetboats as a rescue tool. These however proved to be prone to electrical failure and had several other drawbacks as a surf rescue vehicle. When IRB's were introduced, United North Piha was again one of the first New Zealand clubs to try them out.

During the early 90s west coast beaches suffered declining numbers, especially in the traditional competition events such as ski, board and swim. United North Piha, Piha, Karekare and Bethells Beach competed together for a time as Waitakere. Their competition colours were black, green, yellow, and blue. Their cap was quartered with one quarter for each color. Increasing numbers allowed United North Piha to compete under its own colours for the first time in some years in the 2002/2003 season, when a large contingent even went down to the nationals held at Gisborne.

IRB competition is very strong in the club, with nationally competitive teams being fielded most years. The club has a very high number of qualified IRB operators.

The club maintains excellence in patrolling, winning its Regional Patrol Champs in 2001/2002 and 2002/2003. The club has been Club of the year many times recently, including the 2004/2005 season.


A combination of extremely dangerous conditions and its closeness to Auckland's population has caused Piha to be considered New Zealand's most dangerous beach. The reputation is deserved; more deaths have occurred at North Piha than any other patrolled beach in the country. Over 30 bodies have graced United's First Aid room.

See Also
External Links
  • United North Piha Lifeguard Service web site
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