Volunteers can obtain their Surf Lifeguard Award at the age of 14, which ensures that they are competent in the core skills required to patrol a beach.

All lifeguards are encouraged to further up-skill themselves in such areas as First Aid (all first aid qualifications are NZQA accredited), Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Awards (driver and crew), as well as many further qualifications, ranging from patrolling to instruction and examination.

Further to all the awards offered, each year there are also many development courses, focusing on developing personal skills in areas ranging from patrolling to leadership and administration. Training is on going to maintain a high standard of development for lifeguards at all levels within Kariaotahi, and covers skills such as surf swimming, board riding, rescue techniques and scene management.

Youth and Leadership Development is quite possibly the most essential part of the health and future of a club, as well skilled lifeguards are essential for maintaining a high standard of patrolling, and motivated leaders will ensure a positive environment, proactive development and on going support for all members of the club

Young 14 – 17 year old lifeguards participate in development programmes, which aid with the fundamentals of active lifeguard duty and personal development skills. These programmes cover all aspects of the Surf Life Saving movement, starting with Life Guarding and First Aid, progressing through to leadership development. These lifeguards then progress into the active life guarding duties of the club, and take up more senior positions in the patrolling aspects as these skills develop over time.

More opportunities become available as the lifeguards become more involved with the movement, and Leadership Development programmes are available for 18-30 year old members, which introduce advanced life guarding activities and aims to develop their leadership skills so that they can effectively take on any of the leadership roles that they currently hold or might take on in the future.

The skills learned at these courses are invaluable, and will be of great benefit throughout the lives of any that have the opportunity to attend these courses. Attendance at these courses in previous seasons has led Kariaotahi to a position where most of the operational roles, such as club captain, chief instructor, competition coordinator, rookie coordinator, are now held by lifeguards who have developed these skills at the courses, and are now putting them to very effective use for the club.