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Severe weather events show the value of New Zealand's rescue helicopters



26 Apr, 2023


thumbnail Northland Chopper Paul Davis copy-47New Zealand’s rescue helicopters flew dozens of critical missions during and after recent storm events across the country, helping save lives and offering an ongoing lifeline to those trapped by floods and slips.

The heroic efforts of chopper crews come after another record-breaking year of missions in 2022. A total of 9847 rescues were carried out across the country, including 1210 in the Northland region.

With Chopper Appeal Month in May, Northland Rescue Helicopter critical care paramedic Paul Davis says public fundraising will help keep Kiwi communities safe during future disasters.

“During Cyclone Gabrielle, the weather conditions limited our ability to fly. However, our crews took part in a multi-agency maritime search and rescue operation spanning two days and involving a damaged catamaran swept out to sea,” Mr Davis says.

“The other agencies included the police, coastguard, and the Royal New Zealand Navy. The distressed sailor was rescued in extreme conditions by navy personnel on an inflatable boat launched from the frigate Te Mana, while our crew provided overwatch for the safety of all involved.

“We’re really grateful for all donations during Chopper Appeal Month. Whether we’re responding to major natural disasters or flying day-to-day missions, we rely on the public’s generosity to help us keep making a difference in people’s lives.”

Westpac NZ chief executive Catherine McGrath recently visited the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay to see the extent of weather damage and the scale of the recovery ahead. She’s asking the public to give generously to support the rescue helicopters’ vital work both in those regions and around the country.

“We love working with the choppers to make Aotearoa a safer, greater place – whether it’s during large-scale emergencies or helping people who get into trouble in their day-to-day lives,” Ms McGrath says.

“Recent events have highlighted that a chopper is always there for you, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, and our fundraising during the month of May really helps to keep them flying.”

Westpac staff nationwide were out and about raising funds for their local rescue helicopter service in the annual Street Appeal on Thursday May 4.

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

n Make a donation or find out more at chopperappeal.co.nz.


Northland Rescue Helicopter critical care paramedic Paul Davis says public fundraising will help keep Kiwi communities safe during future disasters.

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