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Toyota Financial Services is today announcing a further three-year extension of its sponsorship of Surf Life Saving in New Zealand.
Surf Life Saving is a critical charity that keep Aotearoa New Zealand’s beaches and coastlines safe and provide emergency response services through beach patrols, largely powered by volunteers.
The charity supports over 74 surf lifesaving clubs patrolling at over 90 locations, and more than 4,500 volunteer surf lifeguards.
Toyota Financial Services has supported Surf Life Saving in New Zealand for more than a decade and supplies the countries organisations with 53 Toyota vehicles – making it one of the largest not-for-profit vehicle fleets in New Zealand.
Toyota Financial Services’ Chief Executive Officer, Brent Knight says that the continuation of the partnership was organic given the close relationship between the organisations, and he anticipated that the Toyota nameplate would become synonymous with surf lifesaving rescue services nationally.
“Surf lifeguards are staunch in their commitment to keep the public safe, but every second counts to save a life. To achieve this goal, we need to ensure lifeguard services have the appropriate support, resources, and equipment to perform their role to the best of their abilities,” he says.
“We are a nation of coast lovers – 97% of us live within 50km of a coast. Unfortunately, that is reflected in our drowning statistics: in 2022, there were 93 preventable drowning fatalities – the worst in 14 years. But that number would have been much higher were it not for surf lifeguards, who saved 726 lives last summer.”
Under the partnership, Surf Life Saving receives 20 sponsored Toyota Hilux and RAV4 vehicles to support regional lifesaving delivery and community education programmes. In addition, Toyota Financial Services provides a further 33 Toyota Hilux 4WD vehicles at a discounted rate, including 20 first response vehicles to clubs, some with the help of the Grassroots Trust. The vehicles have proven to be very valuable tools in Surf Life Saving’s mission to keep New Zealanders safe on our vast stretch of coastline.
Surf lifesaving clubs nationwide are also able to access preferential lease deals for their additional vehicle needs.
Brent says that, from Toyota’s perspective, there is a strong alignment of objectives and cultures between Toyota and Surf Life Saving, in particular their focus on community and safety.
“Community is one of the core pillars of Toyota’s Let’s Go Places brand vision. We have always had deep roots in our local communities, and we are focused on how we can make a positive social impact and give back to them. Similarly, we aim to make road users safer with the help of our leading safety technology – Toyota Safety Sense,” he says.
“By supporting the Surf Life Saving movement, we are literally helping to save lives.”
Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) Chief Executive Paul Dalton says that the charity is proud to continue its partnership with Toyota Financial Services, and echoes Brent Knight’s comments about cultural similarities between Toyota and SLSNZ.
“We are both community-minded organisations, and both Toyota and SLSNZ support opportunities to move New Zealand forward. We look forward to the continued support and believe the similarities between us are reflective of a long-lived partnership between us,” says Paul.
Surf Life Saving Northern Region (SLSNR) CEO Matt Williams says that having a further three years of support from Toyota Financial Services will be essential to enabling SLSNR to achieve its core services as demand within the region continues to grow.
“Our services in Northern Region are truly an 24/7 operation, and with many rescues now occurring out of regular patrol hours and patrol locations – such as during the recent flooding in Auckland, which saw us rescue 79 people trapped by flooding, and now the ongoing Cyclone Gabrielle damage requiring significant rescue and recovery efforts.
“It’s really important that we have reliable gear that enables us to respond quickly. Having access to the Toyota vehicles helps to quicken our response time, and increase the safety of our community,” says Matt.