27 May 2024


Westpac Rescue Helicopter has been named New Zealand’s Most Trusted charity brand, and third most trusted brand overall in the 2024 Reader’s Digest survey.

The nationwide network of rescue helicopters operates 24/7, 365 days a year, providing lifesaving services to those in need, from precarious search and rescue missions to critical medical transfers.

In a survey of 1,800 New Zealanders, Westpac Rescue Helicopter came out on top in the charity category for the second time, having previously won the award in 2018.

More information about the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brand awards can be found here.

Westpac NZ General Manager of Product, Sustainability and Marketing, Sarah Hearn, thanked the Rescue Helicopter Trusts for their tireless efforts.

“Chopper crews carry out vital work around the clock to keep communities safe, and we’ve been supporting them to do that for more than 40 years,” Ms Hearn says.

“New Zealand is a small country, and it surprises us how many people know someone who’s been in need of the Chopper services themselves and are willing to share their story. One thing that sticks out to me is how many of them talk about hearing the helicopter approaching in their time of need, and the feeling of relief that help is minutes away.

“The Chopper crews are not only trusted, but treasured by the communities they operate in.”

Four of New Zealand’s rescue helicopter trusts operate under the Westpac Rescue Helicopter brand – the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Life Flight (Wellington), and the Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust.

Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust General Manager, Shaan Hulena, says the team are thrilled for the public’s vote of confidence in the Rescue Helicopter service.

“In life and death situations, trust is incredibly important. This recognition is a nod to our commitment to providing world-class patient care. Lives count on us to be there. Our patients and their loved ones, as well as our valued supporters. Thank you to everyone who voted and for helping the service raise awareness of our life-saving work,” says Mr Hulena.

Life Flight Chief Executive, Mark Johnston, says thank you to the public for being with them every step of the way.

“On behalf of everyone at Life Flight, I want to say a huge thank you to the public for this incredible honour. We’re thrilled and humbled to accept the Most Trusted Brand award in the charity category, alongside the other Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trusts,” Mr Johnston says.

This award shows the confidence and support you have for us, and for the skilled and dedicated crews that work on the Westpac Choppers. Your trust means we can keep saving lives and providing critical care as those mission numbers continue to rise, year on year.”

Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust CEO, Christine Prince, says receiving the award is a great honour for the entire crew.

“It‘s great to get such recognition for our amazing Canterbury Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew who respond day and night, in all types of conditions, and when time truly is crucial. This recognition is also a testament to our invaluable partner, Westpac, and the support from our local community. With emergency calls on the rise, this support is more crucial than ever,” Mrs Prince says.

Philips Search and Rescue Trust (operators of the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter) Group Manager, Vanessa Richmond, says the team are grateful for the trust of the community.

“We are honoured to be announced as the winner of the most Trusted Charity. It's a testament to the hard work and dedication of our amazing team, and the trust that our supporters have placed in us,” Ms Richmond says.

“As a rescue helicopter charity, we're committed to being there for those who need us most, and this award is a reminder that we're making a real difference. We're proud to be a part of this community, and we're honoured to be recognised in this way. Thank you to everyone who has supported us on this journey - we're grateful for your trust in us.”

The rescue choppers flew 9,228 missions in 2023, helping New Zealanders all over the country in moments of need.

With the Westpac Chopper Appeal month drawing to a close, people wishing to make a donation or find out more can visit www.chopperappeal.co.nz

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