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Otago Surf Life Saving search and rescue co-ordinator Max Corboy received a New Zealand Search and Rescue certificate of achievement at the New Zealand Search and Rescue Awards in Wellington last night.
Mr Corboy (27) was recognised for his service and commitment to both Surf Life Saving New Zealand and the Surf Life Saving New Zealand Otago search and rescue team.
Winning the award reflected the efforts of the entire team, Mr Corboy said.
He has been involved with Surf Life Saving since he was 7 years old, when he was part of the junior surf programme.
He has led the Otago search and rescue team since 2016.
His team of 15 surf life-savers responded to 37 rescue callouts last year.
Mr Corboy said he had lost track of how many rescues he had conducted over the years, but everyone he saved was thankful for his help.
Timing was critical when it came to rescuing people, and you had to trust yourself to make the right decision, he said.
Mr Corboy has previously earned recognition for his rescue efforts, including being part of a group who rescued nine people from Taieri River floodwaters about midnight on July 21, 2017.
He was also one of the surf life-savers who helped save 30 Columba College pupils caught in a rip off Canoe Beach, near Purakaunui, on March 1, 2013.
Helicopters Otago also received a certificate of achievement for its role in a rescue in the Southern Alps last year.
Otago Regional Rescue Helicopters worked with the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand, the Mt Cook Alpine Cliff Rescue Team and the Mt Cook Incident Management Team to rescue two climbers near Copland Pass in January.
New Zealand Search and Rescue secretariat manager Duncan Ferner said the calibre of this year’s award winners was very impressive.
"Every one of them had sacrificed time with their family and friends to provide a vital service to New Zealand.
"Without their efforts, fewer families would be reunited or loved ones returned home."