In early 1968 Europa donated a new surf boat, ‘Miss Europa’ to the Worser Bay Surf Club. On 10 April in that very same year, five surf lifeguards from Worser Bay battled one of New Zealand’s worst storms and rowed Miss Europa out into Wellington Harbour to help save the lives of the 683 passengers and crew aboard the sinking Wahine ferry.
The Wahine ferry, travelling from Lyttelton to Wellington Harbour, ran into difficulties caused by tropical cyclone Giselle and eventually sank with 53 lives lost. The Wahine disaster was a significant day in Wellington’s history. By remembering Wahine Day each year, we acknowledge those whose lives were lost and honour those who helped. While the full force of Cyclone Giselle hit Wellington, there were also lives lost and serious injuries felt across many parts of New Zealand on that day.
After this tragic event, Europa wanted to play a larger role in the communities in which it operated and began a new relationship with Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ).
The relationship evolved with the sponsorship of jet boats, medical scholarships and club equipment in the 1970s and in the early 1980s jet boats were replaced with the more reliable Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs). In 1986 a more formal three-year agreement was entered into.
In 1990 the Europa brand was replaced by BP and the relationship between BP and SLSNZ became even stronger, evolving into the relationship that we now have today.
Since the partnership began in 1968, BP has supported Surf Life Saving clubs around NZ in saving more than 55,000 lives and BP Inflatable Rescue Boats (IRBs) have been involved in more than 22,000 search and rescues.
Surf Lifeguards save hundreds of people on our beaches every year. The service they provide is free and they've had our backs for as long as most New Zealanders can remember.
BP’s partnership includes an annual donation to Surf Life Saving New Zealand and an annual contribution of fuel for every Surf Life Saving Club around the country.
As part of BP's Surf Life Saving NZ partnership, we are proud to support the use of Inflatable Rescue Boats by Surf Life Saving Clubs around New Zealand because we know how vital they are to everyday operations.
IRBs enhance the capability of Surf Life Saving Clubs operations and enhance the service which they provide to the community.
Our BP Leaders for Life programme provides lifeguards with a variety of important skills including conflict resolution and leadership skills that can be taken back and applied to their communities and clubs.
BP also recognises the skills of surf lifeguards with BP gift cards for clubs in the BP Rescue of the Month and BP Rescue of the Year awards.
To celebrate the 50-year partnership in 2018, BP’s Every Litre Counts campaign raised an additional $459,050 for Surf Life Saving NZ, following a month-long initiative during summer which saw a portion of every litre of fuel sold at BP sites nationwide donated to the charity.
In 2018, BP also donated an additional IRB to support the Capital Coast Callout Squad in Wellington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wahine sinking and to ensure there is equipment available for the Callout Squad.