A 12-year-old surfer, Izaro Williamson Sasia from Taranaki and New Zealand’s two leading competition professionals Paige Hareb and Ricardo Christie are spearheading a unique surfing marathon designed to improve life for struggling island populations in the South Pacific.
Hareb and Christie are the only Kiwis who have qualified and competed on the elite WSL professional circuit in the past decade and are key ambassadors for SurfAid’s Make-A-Wave fundraising mission. The commitment requires all comers to surf every day of September no matter what the weather or conditions.
SurfAid, a not-for-profit non-governmental organisation started in New Zealand, runs the annual fundraiser internationally with surfers from Australia, New Zealand and the United States as key regions also taking part. Last year, SurfAid raised $700,000 NZD from the challenge with all money raised going to be humanitarian programmes the organisation undertakes in Indonesia and Solomon Islands, places surfers regularly travel to in the pursuit of perfect waves.
Hareb, from Oakura in Taranaki, lauded 12-year-old Williamson Sasia’s efforts ahead of the September 1st start of the global fundraiser. “Izaro is fifth on the global leaderboard for the most donations which I find really impressive,” Hareb said of her fellow Taranaki surfer who lives a golf chip shot away from Fitzroy Beach. “She’s showing up some of the rest of us but also inspiring us.”
Williamson Sasia, who has been surfing since she was four, said she wanted to do the challenge as she was already developing an understanding of how important SurfAid’s work is. “My parents are both surfers and have taken me travelling. My Dad is involved with SurfAid,” she said. “I picked up how often the places we travel to for surfing go without basic support to improve access to water and hygiene. I just wanted to help, and going surfing every day in September is one way I can do it.”
Hareb intends to keep her pledge too, despite being forced out of the water recently by a knee injury suffered at the ISA world championships in El Salvador recently.
“My rehab has been slow but I am back in the water now. I’ve been reminding people so they sponsor my Make-A-Wave campaign,” she said. “I’ve been an ambassador for SurfAid for several years now. It’s a great organisation making a huge difference in places many surfers go to and where we as a tribe want to make a difference.”
Gisborne-based Christie is also committed to the programme along with well-known local, former national women’s champion Saffi Vette.
“Saffi and I are also SurfAid ambassadors,” said Christie. “By travelling you get to see how lucky we are in New Zealand and other countries. The people in those countries are so generous you really want to help them and I’ve found supporting SurfAid is the most practical way I can do that.”
The challenge initially required each person to surf every day of September but has been modified to allow more flexibility for people who may not be able to get to a surf beach every day. It now allows for groups of surfers to fulfil the daily pledge while other water-based activities can be undertaken to replace surfing if that is not possible.
“The main thing is just to drive as many donations as we can,” said Izaro.
SurfAid has a dedicated website where surfers can join the challenge and donations can be made: https://makeawave.co/.
For more information please contact:
Jessica Bell, Campaigns and Communications Manager, SurfAid email@example.com.
Founded in 2000, after founder Dr. Dave Jenkins witnessed immense, needless suffering in a Mentawai village while on a surf trip, SurfAid is a NGO whose core mission is to improve the lives of families in remote areas. Underpinning this mission is SurfAid’s belief that positive, sustainable and long-lasting change can only be achieved through the active involvement of the locals in the places we love to surf.