The competitive side of lifesaving in New Zealand centres on the Nelson Shield, donated by the late William Nelson, the first contest between provincial teams being at Napier in 1915. The contests went ahead uneasily till 1922, when it was decided for the first time to allow club teams to compete for the shield. From this small beginning came the tremendous three-day championships of today when more than 40 teams contest the main event and where there are more than 30 titles to win.
It is a curious fact that, of the 35 contests for the shield which have been held since club teams were allowed to take part, only once has a province been successful. This was Canterbury, in 1927. The other contests were won by one of 10 clubs as follows: Maranui, 12 times; Lyall Bay, six; New Brighton and South Brighton, four each; Fitzroy, two; and New Plymouth Old Boys, St. Clair, North Beach, Eastern United, and Red Beach, one each.