On the 18th of February 1913, three employees of the NZ Railways were fishing off Paekakariki but when returning to shore their small boat capsized in a heavy swell. Two of the men, Messers Malcolm and Ginnane, clung to the upturned hull whilst the third man, Walter Pengally, gave up his place. Being a strong swimmer Pengally attempted a swim to shore but was unsucessful.
On shore a rescue party of fellow railway workers quickly formed and John Sanderson performed a feat of outstanding heroism and stamina to swim to the overturned boat and return the two men to the beach in two gruelling trips to the drifting craft and back. John Sanderson and other members of the party were awarded the Royal Humane Society Silver Medals in recognition of these rescues. The body of Walter Francis Pengally was washed ashore two days later.
Deeply moved by the death of a fellow workmate employees called a meeting in the Paekakariki Railway Social Hall on 2 March 1913 at which it was decided unanimously to form a Surf Club. The formation of what is today the Paekakariki Surf Lifeguards became the 10th Surf Lifesaving club formed in New Zealand, and was the first "non-metropolitan" club in the country. When the Wellington District Surf Lifesaving Association was formed in the 1930s the club duly became an affiliated member.
The Paekakariki Surf Life Guards celebrated its Centenary on Labour Weekend 2013. To see photos of the event please check out our Facebook page here..
The Paekakariki Surf Lifeguards have an active patrolling and sporting history, taking the title of 2011 Wellington Club of the Year.
The Paekakariki Rail and Heritage Museum have a great article on the history of the Paekakariki Surf Lifeguards. Check out their website for more information.