Chopper missions up 20 per cent

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter. Photo: Andy Jackson/Stuff.

New Zealand’s rescue helicopters had their busiest year ever in 2020, covering all corners of the country to help Kiwis in trouble and support the health response to Covid-19.

The choppers helped a total of 9,032 patients – 1519 more than in 2019. That includes 448 missions in the Bay of Plenty coastal region.

Throughout Westpac Chopper Appeal Month in May, New Zealanders are asked to give generously to help the country’s 15 trusts continue flying these vital missions.

Westpac NZ Chief Executive David McLean says the rescue choppers play an important role in allowing New Zealanders to live the Kiwi lifestyle.

"We’re able to work and play in our wonderful country, with the knowledge that if anything were to go wrong, lifesaving help is only minutes away."

TECT Rescue Helicopter Group Manager Vanessa Richmond says improvements in the emergency dispatch processes and an increase in Kiwis getting out and about have both contributed to the increase in missions flown in the region.

"We came to the aid of hundreds of New Zealanders last year who’d been injured while tramping, playing sport, or travelling on our roads in the Coastal Bay of Plenty and Coromandel area.

"With an on-base crew of pilots, intensive care paramedics and crewmen, we have the ability to get to patients quicker and offer them immediate, on the scene treatment saving precious time," says Vanessa.

"We rely on the continued support of the community to constantly improve our lifesaving services, and we’re hugely grateful for everyone who’s able to donate even a small amount over the month of May."

This year, Westpac has teamed up with Trade Me to come up with a new way for New Zealanders to support their local rescue helicopter.

Throughout May, Kiwis are encouraged to take part in the “Great Chopper Appeal Garage Sale” by listing an item on Trade Me using #chopperappeal and donating the amount raised from the sale to Chopper Appeal.

"What a great way to recycle the treasures that no longer bring you joy, in a sustainable way, and support the rescue choppers at the same time," says David.

Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the Chopper Appeal, as well as distributing all funds raised back to donors’ local rescue helicopter trust.

People wishing to make a donation or find out more information can visit

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