Harbour Wardens' substantial contribution to water safety recognised
Friday, 19 April 2013 9:00 a.m.
Bob Batt and Corb Whitton have both been volunteer harbour wardens in the Eastern Bay of Plenty since 1984. Bob, at 90, and Corb, at 87, are now retiring from their lengthy commitments to improving boating safety in the Eastern Bay.
Bob Batt is a WWII Veteran who served in the Navy for 15 years. During that time Bob was part of the crew aboard the HMS Achilles. He recalls his involvement in the Battle of the River Plate in South America in 1939 as his most exciting memory of his time out on the water.
Of his time as a harbour warden in the Eastern Bay Bob says he has really enjoyed it and never encountered any problems. “I’ve seen a lot of things and spoken to a lot of people, but never encountered any real issues. Speaking to people in a respectful manner about their responsibility on the water has always worked for me.”
Corb Whitton has always been interested in boating, but when a friend was killed while crossing the Opotiki Bar, Corb made the decision to get involved with the safety side of maritime operations. He approached the Harbour Master and asked to be involved and was made a harbour warden, a role he has held ever since. Corb, along with another friend, are also responsible for setting up the Opotiki Coastguard, and Corb is now an honorary life-long member.
Corb, who has been based in Opotiki since 1955, says during his time as a warden he has found that in general people are pretty good at wearing life jackets, following the navigational rules and keeping in communication when they head out on the water. “It’s been good. I’ve enjoyed sharing my knowledge, reminding people about the rules and having an impact on water safety in the area.”
This week Regional Council hosted an evening to thank all the Eastern Bay wardens for the work over the summer and particularly to recognise and thank both the retiring wardens for their lengthy voluntary commitment to maritime safety in the area.
Brian Spake, who has worked with Bob and Corb for 23 years in his role as Bay of Plenty Regional Council Harbour Master, said at the event “the commitment you’ve both given to this role has been immense and it will be very hard to replace you both. The support you’ve provided over the years has made a real difference, not just to me, but to all the boating community in the area. ”
Regional Councillor Malcolm Whitaker presented the two retiring wardens with certificates recognising their commitments and thanked them on behalf of the Regional Council for the valuable time they had put in to ensuring people remained safe while out in their boats. “Bob and Corb have provided an incredible service to this community. Not only have they volunteered significant amounts of their time, but they have undertaken a job that is not easy and not to be taken lightly, and done it with pride and passion. We wish them well in their retirement.”
Bob and Corb are looking forward to seeing how their replacement wardens will get on in filling their shoes, and say they won’t hesitate to show them the ropes if they need to.
There are currently 52 volunteer harbour and lake wardens in the Bay of Plenty. Wardens are valued members of the public who give up their own personal time and effort to help keep our waterways safe for all users. They are the very valued eyes and ears for the Harbour Masters. If you’d like to get involved, call us on 0800 884 880.