5 May 2021


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 – 1,519 more than in 2019.  

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.”

Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust Chairman Simon Tompkins says the public’s generosity has helped the trust keep improving the capabilities of its aircraft and crew.

“By having two daytime crew members with two medical personnel onboard whenever required, and Pre-Hospital and Retrieval Medicine Doctors available 24 hours a day, we are committed to raising our standard of patient care and increasing their chances of survival,” Mr Tompkins says.

“We were also able to provide extra resource in Whitianga to serve the Coromandel community and holidaymakers over the busy summer period."

Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust CEO Christine Prince says rescue teams responded to a big increase in leisure-related accidents and medical emergencies following last year’s COVID-19 lockdown.

“Even though we saw a dip in missions during lockdown, mission numbers have steadily increased since our lives got back to normal and Kiwis got back out into nature, and we were there to help those who got into trouble.

“The number of missions we fly increases every year. We rely on the public to continue supporting 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!”, Mr McLean says.

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.


Editor’s note
: There are 15 rescue helicopter trusts nationwide: Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty coastal region (TECT Rescue Helicopter), Waikato-King Country-Coromandel (Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter), Lakes and Central Plateau region (Greenlea Rescue Helicopter), Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Taranaki, Manawatu-Whanganui (Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter), Wellington-Marlborough, Nelson-Marlborough, Canterbury, West Coast, Otago, and Lakes District.