Learning to survive, thrive and save lives

YSAR Mission, Vision and Values

About YSAR

The purpose of YSAR Trust is to train and prepare the next generation of Search and Rescue (SAR) and Emergency Management (EM) practitioners. With a primary emphasis on skill development, community service principles, and authentic outdoor education, we have become a recognized entity in the SAR and EM sector since our establishment in 2005.

To accommodate our growth, we have expanded our operations beyond Tauranga and established branches in Auckland, Waikato Central, Thames Coromandel, and Wellington. In 2024, we plan to open targeted branches in South Auckland, Dunedin, Wakatipu, and Christchurch. These new branches will allow us to extend our reach and engage with youth in various regions of New Zealand.

Our commitment to youth development and SAR/EM sectors has been formalized through a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the New Zealand Search and Rescue (NZSAR). This agreement grants us a seat at the NZSAR Consultative Committee table and provides access to FED funding alongside other sector partners. The funding enables us to enhance our training programs and support our expansion efforts.

With a curriculum that includes outdoor education, leadership and management skills, and problem-solving with emerging technologies, we have trained over 700 students who have integrated into SAR groups and pursued careers in emergency response. An Alumni Survey conducted in 2022 highlighted the positive impacts of our program, such as improved mental health, confidence, personal growth, and long-term opportunities for graduates.

We actively contribute to the National NZ Search and Rescue and Recreation Safety review, and in 2022, we organized a National Youth Development Forum focusing on youth, diversity, and future workforce capability. Our goal is to help shape the future of SAR and EM by collaborating with NZSAR and NEMA to implement sector review outcomes.

In summary, YSAR Trust is dedicated to training the next generation of SAR and EM practitioners through a comprehensive program that instills skills, values, and personal growth. Our expansion efforts, supported by the SLA and FED funding, aim to reach more communities in New Zealand and create a resilient and capable workforce in the SAR and EM sectors.

Training Modules
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Weekend training exercises
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Learning to survive, thrive and save lives

Kaua e mate wheke mate ururoa.
Don’t die like an octopus, die like a hammerhead shark. We want our tauira (students) to endure and thrive! Persevere and succeed! We support our tauira to not give up, but to stay strong knowing they will

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūoho koe me he maunga teitei.
Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain. We want our tauira to set their sights high and strive for success! We support tauira to persevere through challenges reassuring them they will reach their goals.

He toa takitini taku toa, ehara i te toa takitahi.
My bravery was the bravery of many, not just one warrior. At YSAR, we can achieve great things by working together! Our collective strength and courage can help us save lives. We use our collective power to make a difference.


We exist to empower the next generation of community-minded volunteers


And to achieve this, we’re enabling adventure through our leading-edge Search and Rescue and Emergency Management programme


Growing our PEOPLE – Manaakitanga

He aroha whakatō, he aroha ka puta mai. – If kindness is sown, then kindness is what you shall receive.

We care for all people and acknowledge tangata whenua and mana whenua in Aotearoa. Our common purpose is for people to thrive at YSAR in a supportive environment. By fostering partnerships with our communities, we’re learning more, innovating faster and venturing further than ever before.

Conserving our PLANET – Kaitiakitanga

Te toto o te tāngata he kai, te oranga o te tāngata he whenua. – Food is the blood of the people, but the welfare of the people lies in the land. The land is not just a source of sustenance to the body but also a source of well-being; physically, mentally, and spiritually.

We conserve Papatūānuku and Ranginui. Our natural environment sits at the heart of every decision we make.
As kaitiaki of our native bush we tread lightly, ensuring we preserve and enhance our country’s natural wonders for future generations to enjoy.

 Committing to PROGRESS – Hihiritanga

Ko te pae tawhiti, whāia kia tata; ko te pae tata, whakamaua kia tīna. – Seek out distant horizons and cherish those you attain.

We strive to be better than we were yesterday and we’re deliberate in doing so. Through a genuine understanding of the present and future needs of our sector, we are solving historical challenges with innovative solutions.

Kaupapa Maori StrateGy 2023

The purpose of the YSAR Kaupapa Māori Strategy to provide a strong base for organisational development in cultural competence and cultural safety as we open new branches throughout Aotearoa, and aim to provide world class search and Rescue and Emergency Management education to young people. The principles and practices developed through this strategy aim to provide an appropriate platform from which to promote and develop culturally responsible practices, competence, and acceptance at all levels of the organisation. 

YSAR is deeply committed to reflecting tīkanga and Te Ao Māori at all levels of the organisation, and in all aspects of teaching. Our aim through this journey is to incorporate tīkanga and Te Ao Māori as a fundamental and foundational part of who we are. Giving effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a strong and grounding component of YSAR’s Kaupapa Māori Strategy. 

YSAR’s Kaupapa Māori Vision 2027 aims to grow Kaupapa Māori Cultural Competence and Cultural Safety.

YSAR Curriculum

The Youth Search and Rescue (YSAR) program is a three-year Learning Outside the Classroom (LOTC) program available to selected Year 11, 12, and 13 students in Tauranga and Mt Albert, Auckland. It involves weekly two-hour classes during term time and monthly weekend camping exercises. While the program does not offer a qualification listed on the NZ Qualifications Framework (NZQF), some modules meet the criteria for Unit Standards and may be awarded by external registered providers.

The curriculum for each year of the YSAR program corresponds to a specific level on the NZQF.

  • Year One is equivalent to Level 1 (NCEA 1), focusing on basic knowledge, problem-solving, and interaction in structured contexts. 
  • Year Two is equivalent to Level 2 (NCEA 2), emphasizing factual knowledge, applying known solutions, and collaborating under supervision. 
  • Year Three is equivalent to Level 3 (NCEA 3), with an emphasis on operational and theoretical knowledge, applying a range of solutions, and taking major responsibility for learning and performance.

The strategic purpose of the YSAR program is to prepare young adults for transition into Search and Rescue (SAR) and Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) organizations. It integrates Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) learning to enhance students’ skills and contribute to the SAR/CDEM sector. The program focuses on developing participants’ competence through safe, sequenced learning experiences in outdoor environments, while incorporating respect for local customs, sustainability, and the environment.

Graduates of the YSAR program will be capable of managing themselves, equipment, weather, navigation, logistics, and safety to achieve group objectives. They will possess interpersonal communication skills and operate effectively within YSAR’s code of conduct, rules, regulations, and relevant legislation. They will demonstrate judgment in planning, preparing, and participating in outdoor activities aligned with SAR organizations’ safety management systems. Graduates will also utilize STEM tools and innovative solutions in SAR and CDEM operations and exhibit an understanding of kaitiakitanga principles in the outdoors.

The YSAR program is open to secondary school students aged 14-18, regardless of ethnicity or social background. Interested students must submit an online application detailing their age, outdoors experience, health and fitness, study and career aspirations, reasons for applying, STEM interest areas, and a non-family character reference. A shortlist of applicants is interviewed by a panel, and successful candidates receive an offer of acceptance. The program has been running since 2009 and is taught by volunteers from related fields, with external moderation provided by a professional academic development expert.


Thank you for choosing to donate to YSAR

YSAR is classified as a Donor Organisation and your donations are tax deductible – please make contact for further information