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Page updated: 24 December 2020

The NZSAR sector involves more than 12,000 people. It is a major exercise just train and retain these people, whether they are staff or volunteers.

SAR Adult Education

SAR Adult and Community Education (ACE) provides fees-free SAR training. The Adult and Community Education (ACE) Fund provides for community-based education that meets community learning needs. It is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission and delivered by Tai Poutini Polytechnic. LandSAR is the main beneficiary of this. By contrast, the Coastguard (CGNZ) and Surf Life Saving NZ both pay for their own training.

The Search and Rescue Fund

The SAR (ACE) Fund supports volunteers to get the relevant class and level of training and accreditation they need to perform SAR operations.[i]  Tertiary education organisations (TEOs) are funded to provide SAR training to learners nominated by NZSAR, or an organisation recognised by it.  This quality of the training provided in this system has come under scrutiny of the Labour party in the past.[ii] 


[i] "Search and Rescue (ACE) | Tertiary Education Commission." Accessed 5 Oct. 2017.

[ii] Posted by David Cunliffe on September 13, 2015. “Investigation Needed for Search and Rescue Shortcuts.” New Zealand Labour Party,

Could the future of SAR training be virtual?

Peoples’ expectations for how to learn are constantly changing.  

In the future, the SAR sector may want to consider providing opportunities for learning involving virtual and augmented reality. 

The technology enabling realistic simulations of SAR operations is likely to improve exponentially over the next decade.  

Furthermore, in the future, new systems for knowledge transfer, commonly known as ‘Massive open online courses’ (or MOOCs) could prove a cost-effective way to keep people well trained. 

However, care would need to be taken to ensure the quality of training and assessment prior to being involved in operations was up to standard.

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