New Zealanders are being urged to give generously this Chopper Appeal Month following a record-breaking year for rescue helicopters.
More than 9,500 missions were flown nationwide last year, including 474 missions in the Tauranga Bay of Plenty region.
This Friday, Westpac staff around the country will be out and about raising funds for their local rescue helicopter service in the annual fundraising street appeal.
Westpac NZ Chief Executive Catherine McGrath says the rescue helicopter crews are working harder than ever to save lives.
“Accident and illness can affect any of us at any time,” says Catherine.
“Knowing help could be only minutes away even in some of our most remote locations is so important in a country as diverse as ours. And when we've learned over the last couple of years that we can live, work and explore from almost anywhere, knowing the chopper crews are there for you when you need them is so important.
“We know that living is getting more expensive, so every dollar donated is incredibly appreciated. All money donated in your region goes straight to your local chopper service, so you know that your donation is supporting your community.”
TECT Rescue Helicopter on a mission to Opotiki. Photo: Supplied.
TECT Rescue Helicopter Group Manager for Fundraising Vanessa Richmond says the public’s generosity has helped the trust keep improving the capabilities of its aircraft and crew.
“It’s great to see people out exploring our own beautiful country at every opportunity. The crew love what they do, and they love helping their community using their incredible skills to save lives," says Vanessa.
“We rely on donations from the public to keep the TECT Rescue Helicopter in the sky, and we’re hugely grateful for everyone who’s able to donate over the month of May.”
Papamoa youngster Hunter Tyler and mum Jessie needed the Chopper in a hurry after a medical event earlier this year. Tyler had a shunt placed to help his body process extra fluid in his brain shortly after he was born in 2019. A couple of months ago, this life-saving medical device disconnected. He needed to get to Starship Hospital as quickly as possible for emergency surgery to avoid brain damage.
From Tauranga Hospital, Tyler and Jessie were soon in the air onboard the TECT Rescue Helicopter on a quick 40 minute flight up to Auckland.
“I felt relief that we were on the way to the best place, and in good hands. I already had so much respect for the helicopter crews from when Hunter was born, but I have even more respect now,” says Jessie.
“It wasn’t until Hunter had his operation and woke up that I finally felt like he was going to be ok.”
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 www.chopperappeal.co.nz.
There are 15 rescue helicopter trusts nationwide:
Northland Emergency Services Trust (Northland Rescue Helicopters), Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters), Philips Search and Rescue Trust - Bay of Plenty (TECT Rescue Helicopter), Philips Search & Rescue Trust - Waikato-King Country-Coromandel (Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter), Philips Search & Rescue Trust - Taupo and Central Plateau and Lakes Region (Greenlea Rescue Helicopter), Hawke’s Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust (Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter), Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust - Gisborne (Trust Tairāwhiti Rescue Helicopter), Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust (Taranaki Community Rescue Helicopter), Philips Search and Rescue Trust - Manawatu-Whanganui (Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter), Life Flight Trust, Wellington-Marlborough (Wellington Westpac Rescue Helicopter), Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust (Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter), Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust - Canterbury (Canterbury Westpac Rescue Helicopters), Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust - West Coast (ROA Mining Rescue Helicopter), Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust (Otago Regional Rescue Helicopters), Lakes District Air Rescue Trust (Lakes District Rescue Helicopters)