Our Values

We give 100% effort to the task at hand and complete it to the best of our ability.
We do not wait to be asked and in our decisions and actions we are accountable.
The member is the group and the group is the member.
We see the humour in all adversity that we may face.
None of us shall see him or herself above the needs of the group.

Mission Statement

Hamilton SAR Group provides highly competent and operationally focused teams
that are well led, trained and equipped.


Elton Parata
Gilbert Southworth
Gin Peck
Membership Coordinator
E ninandnim@xtra.co.nz
Matt Hassard
Operations Coordinator
E snapperassasin@xtra.co.nz
Russell Lamb
Dave Pitchford
Police Rep
Jake Crosby
Newsletter (Non-committee)

Last Months Meeting

  • Elton introduced membership criteria and progression
  • Barry told us about the new naming of radio channels
  • Exercise on radio protocols

This Month's Meeting 21st November

  • The training will be a rogaine event so will need to come suitably attired as will be out and about. Bring a torch, running shoes and hi-viz
  • Matt wanted to give an overview of the tracking competition in Dunedin in Feb


The holiday season is coming up. Please let Gin know if you're going away and will be unavailable.

Please remember that when a pager messge goes out asking for response we expect a reply from everyone whether they are available or not.



  • If you are going away: Contact Gin with the dates you are unavailable.
  • If you are unable to attend a training: Contact Matt Hassard.
  • If you are unable to attend a meeting: Contact Gin or a committee member.

Pager Test Message

Reminder for all those members with pagers. The first of every month a test message is sent out to ensure your pager is operational, if you do not receive this message you should contact Matt.

Personal Details

Contact Russell if there are any changes to your contact details so the callout list is updated. Change of email address also needs to be passed on to Jake for the newsletter.

Monthly Training Wednesday 1st December

Starting 5:30pm. The venue is yet to be decided but it will be on the west side of town. If you would like anything specific covered at one of the trainings please let Matt know.


Nov 6th Two callouts, a very long day for some.

Mr Wells, 4am, he was located at about 11am. We have searched for him before, some members will recall searching Waikato Hospital and the lost party was located at the back of Anglesea clinic.

Raewyn Wyatt was located the following morning at Eagle Lodge Backpackers, Victoria Street, She was taken for a further assessment of her depression. She stated she had got lost and confused and decided to stay at the backpackers. She paid by bank card which would have lead us to her but it was the media release that alerted the back packers owner. We had our bike brigade out for this event as used cycles to cover a greater distance.

The family of both these people are looking to get wandatrack pendants for them.

Nov 21st A 46 year old male despondent missing at Raglan. He was found deceased after about 3 hours of searching. Gin found the point he'd left the track, Graeme and Gemma were able to track from there to the lost party.

Operation West PublicationNew

The Christchurch Earthquake LandSAR story about our national mobilisation for Operation West can now be found as part of the middle pages of the 2010/11 LandSAR Year Book or as a standalone publication that can be downloaded or viewed from http://www.landsar.org.nz/Resource.aspx?ID=4422

Discounts for Members

  • R&R Sport – 25% Ask for Wayne Addison.
  • Trek 'n' Travel – 20%
  • Bivouac Outdoor – 20%
  • Macpac Hamilton – up to 30%
  • Torpedo 7 – 10% Email Barry for discount code.
  • Kathmandu – Free summit club membership

Rotorua SarexNew

Everyone assembled at 0700hrs Saturday 12 Nov at the Rotorua Police Station for the SAREX briefing. The scenario was a party of three started on the Tarawera track on Friday prepared for an overnight and hadn’t returned. The teams were tasked to locate them. A marine SAREX would be run in parallel on Lake Tarawera for the Coastguard, who would also transport some of the SAR teams into various drop off locations around the Lake. Det Sgt Wilson of Rotorua Police had a separate tracking scenario in mind for Gemma.

After all other teams had been deployed for their scenario, myself and Gemma were transported by Coastguard boat from the Lake Tarawera jetty to the shoreline near Moura Bay where the ‘lost’ person was last seen. This would be the first time Gemma had been in a boat so I was keen to see how she would handle it. She was fine getting into the small boat and once off did a little whinging initially as German shepherds do, then settled into it. It took around 10mins to get to our drop. The little beach landing was quite small so I was thinking it ‘should’ be straight forward to see footprints, but it wasn’t, it was hard to see anything in the sand. Soon after landing, Gemma started barking and looking straight up a vertical bank and while I was fumbling around trying to get the radios (SAR ch VHF radio and also a Marine Ch radio) and GPS sorted and put my pack on she was trying very hard to scramble up the 2.5m vertical and overhung dirt bank, and almost succeeded a couple times (determined little bugger). Was a good impression of a jack-in-the-box. I was pretty sure there was a lot of scent up there but I just needed to check either side of the little beach for more obvious sign and ways up. This meant wading up to my calves in water ‘just to be sure’. With no sign both sides, and soaked boots before I started, I helped her up the bank then scrambled up myself. With harness on Gemma picked up the track pretty much straight from that spot and tracked along the bushline bordering the cliff face for a couple hundred meters then up a steep hill we had to scramble in places and deeper into the bush and more uphill. It was difficult to track because the vegetation so dry and mostly a dirt track, so not much sign or scent holding on and a couple of locations where there were a few dead ends, which we later found to be where the lost party tried to locate a better route. But we had to clear them all. Heading up the ‘steep’ hill we found some slightly nicer bush but still pretty sparse all the same. I did notice a couple of tell tale snapped twigs and a couple of scuff marks. At a great track trap (a drying mud pond) where you would expect to see perfect prints in a SAREX I saw nothing immediately until Gemma tracked around the side of the pond and right at the end there it was a fresh left boot print. I was confident we had been tracking the missing person all the way but seeing good positive visual sign during a difficult track when your dripping with sweat was a nice reinforcement. After another 100m or so of weaving through the bush we located our lost party, Brett from DOC. We had tracked just over 1km from the start. After a big play at the end, some water and a snack (for me!) we radio’d IMT for a pickup. Gemma helped to back track us to the shoreline for Coastguard pickup and journey back to the jetty. This time we went on the twin 225hp coastguard boat which hummed along quite nicely, the pontoons were just the right height for the search dog to get her front legs up to enjoy some fresh air at ~30knots. Back to the Rotorua Police station for a coffee and debrief. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay overnight as had the round the bridges run on Sunday. Really appreciated the welcome and support from Det Sgt John Wilson, Tony Evanson and the Rotorua SAR Group. Another great weekend of operational training and some new experiences and learning for us as a SAR dog team.

For Sale

  • Backcountry ration packs – with breakfast, lunch, dinner and extras pack (tea, coffee, chocolate etc.). They are a bargain at $20. Remember – these are sold to our group at this special rate on the understanding that they will only be used during SAREXs or SAR Operations.
  • Hamilton SAR cloth badge, $6.00 contact Russell
  • Whistles – Bright and Loud, $12 contact Barry

Tauranga Sarex "Op Hanga"New

The Tauranga SAREX "Op Hanga" was held in the Kamai's over the weekend 5-6 Nov 2011. HQ was in a large woolshed off Hanga Road courtesy of the local farmer. Hamilton SAR gp was represented by Scott, myself and Gemma (aka Dog). Members from Waihi and Rotorua SAR groups also attended. The scenario was a group of four (1x school teacher and 3x young students) had ventured into the ranges early Friday morning for a day trip and no contact since. 5 teams (Kaimai’s 1-5) were deployed into the field mid Sat morning by the Tauranga 4wd club, with the AREC providing comms. Tauranga video club were also there to capture the action throughout the weekend. I was 'Kaimai 6' with Gemma and we remained at base and did some training with Paul Robb a member of Tauranga SAR who is training a dog. The field teams did some excellent TCA along the tracks they had been tasked to clear, which gave the IMT the opportunity to concentrate resources in high probability areas. A number of clues were found by the teams including wrappers of food the party was known to be carrying as well as positively identifying footprints from acetates. Mid saturday afternoon we deployed along with Paul Robb, Tauranga who would manage comms/nav. We had to cover around 5km to complete our initial tasking which was to clear a large section of track in order to determine if the lost party had crossed it. We did discover where ‘Kaimai 2’ had completed some TCA on a possible area and Gemma showed quite a lot of interest into the bush either side of the track but we determined it was just the sign-cutting team, as no tracks lead deeper into the bush. Enroute to our final destination, the junction of N-S track and West Henderson Tramline, Gemma sniffed out off the track a pair of old socks, which had seen better days, so we left them behind and continued on. We camped overnight at the junction after all teams had been stood down for the day. Gemma camped ‘outside’ the tent, a sign of summer coming perhaps as during the SAREX on Pirongia she was in the tent before the first pole went in. (Meanwhile back in Hamilton everyone else was getting a pager message for a search in Coromandel!) Early Sunday morning all teams received new tasks and ours was to cut into the bush south of the Henderson tramline from the N-S track and head west to try to locate any clues of the lost party. After we negotiated around some large boggy areas Gemma picked up a track which took us further west but it wasn’t exactly easy going, but Gemma continued to show interest so ‘trust your dog’ we pressed on. After a couple hundred metres more and a couple of good steep climbs through the bush and with intensity rising all the time Gemma led us straight to a bivvy site. We did some clue processing at the site to quickly establish it was the missing party, and with school book and names it was pretty easy to ID them. With that radio'd we decided to give Gemma a cast around the camp area and a clearing in the vicinity to see if we could locate a track leading away from the site. We knew they may not have been gone long from camp as all gear including jackets and packs etc were still there and all seemed to have been used very recently. After a few mins of working the areas Gemma picked up track which led further west into the bush and passed a drag line and into the bush again. It was a good track with clear indications backed up by visual sign along the way. We arrived at a clearing with good track traps and we could positively ID the footprint of the adult as we had an acetate. Just as we were leaving the clearing Gemma drew hard left and about 3m off the track into the bush she located what we found to be a wrapped and hidden pack, looked to have been there for some time, years possibly, so we radio it in. We continued tracking into the bush, but we seemed to be heading back to the camp, confirmed by GPS, and sure enough we did go right back to the camp, so we had done almost a full circle. Thought that was strange. We decided to do some more clue processing of the campsite and advise IMT we were back at the site. We relayed more info back. While Paul was processing camp clues, we decided I would take Gemma through another 50--60m sweep around the site to see if we could locate another track. Sure enough she found one. She was off leash and started to follow the track. I yelled back to Paul we were onto something and would follow a bit. I let Gemma 'free-track' through the bush because with the supple jack it was near impossible to manage a tracking line without getting into knots, she was tracking nicely and I had a good feeling we were going to find the missing party this time. There was a slight wind but it was blowing away so wouldn’t be much help for us to air scent. Enroute Gemma indicated just off the track under a leaf which turned out to be a tiny blue rubber hair tie, I picked that up thinking I would might be able to return it. About 60m away in the bush, we tracked right up to the 4 missing persons. After a quick check the party we all fine, there was a big play for Gemma and a hair tie returned to its owner (who didn’t realise they had dropped it!). As it turned out, the other track was them looking around for other potential camp sites. I don’t think we would have picked the track up had we not decided to go a little bit deeper into less contaminated ground, because with four people I think the area close to the camp was quite trashed so it was hard to discriminate a single track out and whatever breeze there was wasn’t working in our favour. We then spent the next few hours walking out with the team. Overall an excellent SAREX, and great learning experience. Tauranga SAR Group and Police put on an awesome weekend for everyone. Special thanks to Roger Montgomerie and Graeme Mills. Arrived home about 2pm Sunday afternoon, unpacked the wet gear, then a few hours later the pager went off, and we all know what happened next.


The calendar is now available at hsar.org.nz/calendar. This will be keep up to date so you can reffer to it at any time.