The 75th Anniversary Address
The following address by Brooke Archbold MNZN was the highlight of the 75th Anniversary Dinner.
Brooke is ‘a man with an enormous heart with vast amounts of common sense and a very good business brain’.
Brooke Archbold was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the 2014 New Year Honours List for services to Coastguard and was awarded a Coastguard New Zealand Life Membership for his extensive and significant service of more than 30 years, joining a select group of nine Life Members.
Brooke joined Coastguard in 1983, was elected to the Coastguard New Zealand Board in 1989 and is a past president of both Coastguard Auckland and Coastguard New Zealand.
He served 12 years as Chairman of the Coastguard Boating Education Service and is still an active board member.
He is also a Senior Master and the Principal Search and Rescue Controller for Coastguard Northern Region, and an Honorary Life Member of Coastguard Auckland.
My name is Brooke Archbold and I have been asked to speak to you very briefly tonight, giving a flavour as to who we are, some background to our history – and what a history.
It will be very hard to do it justice in 5 – 10 min, but we’ll give it a go.
Any history of AVCG should really be based around people, because above all else AVCG was, and ACI is, all about people. Big, small, whiskery, bald, single, married, other!, builders, doctors, labourers, pen pushers, unemployed, mechanics, introverts, extroverts, the timid, the boisterous, the communicator, the hermit – we've had and have the lot.
I always say the beauty of Coastguard is that being a volunteer organisation, when it comes to our people we have to play the hand we are dealt – and boy is that a strength.
But to do justice to the numerous characters that have graced our presence over the years is just not feasible in the time given, so a potted and heavily edited history it will be.
Depending which story you want to believe, either – or possibly both - John Eastmure or Ron Daverne were the initial drivers of Auckland Coastguard in the late 1930’s, creating an organisation that evolved from the Legion of Frontiersmen and Auckland ex-Sea Scouts Association, with premises in 20 Queen St.
We operated as the New Zealand Coastguard Service, were entirely voluntary, were uniformed, and operated our own vessels – indeed the first Dedicated Rescue vessel was a big 26ft “Ambulance Cutter”.
In the early days, the Service we had most dealing with was the New Zealand Navy, and relations with the Navy during the early period were, to say the least – highly variable, sometimes supportive, such as the Navy leasing to Coastguard an ML vessel for Coastguard work, other times strained, such as recommending Coastguard become an auxiliary to the NZ Army.
After establishing a number of “Divisions” around the Gulf, (the first being in Thames) we became an Incorporated Society in 1939, named the 'New Zealand Coastguard Incorporated’, an later, in 1944, added the important word “Service” into our title.
As befitting an organisation in harmony with the sea, thence commenced an incredible journey that matches the wave action that is so inherent to our service, sometimes drifting for years across calm seas, before plunging down into the troughs of a storm driven swell, before yet again climbing to another crest and pressing on.
After many turbulent years, in 1964 our total membership was down to 22, and our financial situation so bad all vessels were sold and the organisation was living day to day - hand to mouth.
In came the gang of 5, and the start of the great turn around.
Whilst Auckland Coastguard has always owned vessels, the number and certainly the calibre of vessels waxed and waned with the financial strength of the organisation. The slack was always picked up by 'Auxiliaries' – a group of privately owned vessels that performed an unpaid professional SAR service.
This group became known as the "Cutter Group".
And it was the Cutter Group that really was, and to a degree still is, the backbone of the modern era, the era all of us here today are enjoying the benefits of - the true heart and soul, of what is today Auckland Coastguard.
The "Cutter Group" was legionary - at one stage numbering over 40 vessels, vessels that changed over the years, grew in length, increased in speed, and fitted new technology as it arrived - things we take so much for granted now - radar, gps, chart plotters. large outboards (and by large I mean 120hp).
I perhaps should add that the "Rescue Cutter" fleet - being private vessels - had one distinct advantage over our present DRV's, in that they had well stocked bars on board, and the esprit de corp - the raft ups, were equally legendary. I believe the record was 22 Cutter boats rafted up side by side stretching half way across Issi Bay.
Most importantly, these vessels were Skippered and crewed by characters, and I keep coming back to the heart of our organisation - people.
I made an analogy before, between our organisation and the sea.
I now make an analogy between the ship on that sea and our people.
In his earlier introduction, our MC Martin acknowledged the attendance tonight of the organisations Life Members.
Being one of them, I'm sure they would all support me in my contention Life Members are the ships ballast. Solid, constant, sometimes a little extra weight to carry around, but ensuring she remains upright, and when necessary can head to wind.
Now ladies, you don't have to partake in this, but a show of hands please if you are under 40 years of age. Thank you.
As we celebrate 75 years tonight, I'm going to give you all the opportunity to acknowledge the brass rubbing strip on the bottom of the keel, one Life Member who is here tonight, that last month, as a volunteer completed 42 years of continuous active service, I'll say that again, 42 years of continuous active service. That's 60% of the organisations history. He's on my crew and I'm still training him to follow my instructions, but can I ask Mike Roundthwaite to stand up and accept your acclamation.
I said earlier Coastguard is all about people.
Some amazing people who have done some amazing things for and on behalf of this organisation, the largest in the Coastguard movement in New Zealand.
In events such as this, a little bit of blowing your own trumpet is allowed, so to give some appreciation of the factors that have got us to where we are today, with the help of a couple of mates, I’ve created a few bullet points list of what's happened in recent years - a few things that from a Coastguard perspective in New Zealand were firsts:
As mentioned, AVCG was the first to formalise and integrate into a SAR service, private vessels as "Recue Cutters" .
We were the principle sponsor forc establishment the National Organisation (the Federation now CNZ)
We led the charge to the formation Hauraki Alliance which ultimately led the charge to Regionalisation
We were the first to introduce Boating Education
The first to develop coastal coverage of spotters
First to establish a Communications room
First to introduce & adapt radios on-board (ZC1 / DSB / CB / SSB / VHF)
First to introduce an Air Patrol
First to purchase their own aircraft
First to introduce Continuous weather broadcast
First to establish VHF Repeaters, for both SAR and boat to boat general communications
First to link VHF Repeaters
First to provide Coastguard Buoys for mooring duty Rescue Cutters
First to introduce RV SOP's
First to introduce paging call out
First to introduce Training manuals
First to introduce Now-casting
First to achieve 1000, 2000, 3000 , 4000, 5000 Membership
First to introduce paid Employees. (Secretariat, Overnight, DO, RO, GM etc)
First to man 24/365
We've also achieve numerous notable outcomes:
The building we are in tonight (our 9th premises since inception)
Installation of safety navigational Lights, Buoys & Beacons around the Gulf
The Coastguard education cruises
The Rotary fishing competition
Furuno Fishing Competition Base run by CG volunteers
The list goes on and on
Of course, none of the above would have been possible had it not been for great people, and especially I make note here of great support and tolerance from employers, and especially partners. The role of the silent (not always) partners cannot be over stressed, and for that Auckland Coastguard is truly grateful. As the environment that we operate in has changed, so to have we changed.
We've evolved, have adapted, have changed, and possibly greatest of all, have sacrificed to meet the greater need, all for one goal.
"IN THE INTERESTS OF THE VICTIM"
As the curtain of involvement slowly closes for some of us, I beseech those of you coming through, to keep up the momentum, keep pushing, keep developing, keep progressing. Don't ever lose sight you are members of Auckland Coastguard, an organisation with an incredible history and one you can be justifiably proud of.