Long-serving Coastguard volunteer receives national award

Like many community volunteers Kevin Dreaver is a humble man, he didn’t join Raglan Volunteer Coastguard for the accolades – he’s in it to give back to the community and to pay back for the times he’s needed help.

Awarded Rescue Vessel Volunteer of the Year 2019, he has been with the crew for close to 20 years.

Last year the Raglan team brought 120 people home safely and Kevin would have been involved in all of these.

Like many sea-lovers, Kevin had been coming to Raglan for many years for the surfing and sailing. He owned a 28-foot catamaran and remembers one time before he moved permanently to town sailing it from Auckland and being offered help by the coastguard.

“The tide was down and I was waiting outside the bar for it to come in.  Although I didn’t need the help they came out and offered to shepherd me over the bar,” he says.

It was because of this unsolicited offer of help that Kevin decided to volunteer for coastguard.

“I thought I’d repay the favour.”

He’s now one of the longest serving volunteers and according to the crew he gives much more of his time than any other unit member.

One of the most memorable rescues involved a charter fishing boat operator out for a day’s fish with his wife and four kids – the youngest was only a toddler.

The boat got stuck on a rock halfway to Papanui Point and Kevin transported the group on the jetski, one-by-one, to the coastguard rescue boat.

He also vividly remembers spending days taking police out to recover the bodies of 2degrees’ boss Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy from the plane wreckage on the sea floor.

The couple were flying to Timaru from Auckland, but never arrived. During the flight the aircraft reported engine trouble and ditched into the sea off Gannet Island.

It’s rescues like these, no matter how big or small, that keep Kevin coming back for more. And while most rescues have a happy ending, Kevin and the rest of the crew give their all to every incident, regardless of the outcome.

Raglan Coastguard president Wally Hawken says Kevin has dedicated so much time to coastguard that he’s literally put his life on hold for the benefit of the unit – postponing holidays and even a surgery to ensure the unit stays operational.

Kevin is an integral part of Raglan Volunteer Coastguard – recently helping train three of the crew as skippers and was the driving force behind sourcing and organising fundraising for a dry dock mooring berth that lifts Gallagher Rescue – a large catamaran – out of the water, greatly reducing vessel maintenance costs.

“Without Kevin the Raglan unit could not have functioned as an effective and highly successful search and rescue entity operating at sea on the unpredictable West Coast,” Wally says.

Kevin moved to Raglan in 1994 and worked as a boat builder for many years – building the 45-foot boat owned by Rob Galloway owner of Soul Shoes. He continues professionally to do boat repairs and builds custom-made kitchens at his business Waikato Marine Composites located at Nau Mai Business Park.
Kevin is an honorary life member of Raglan Volunteer Coastguard. 

Janine Jackson