This year’s Westpac Chopper Appeal Month resulted in a $12,109 donation for the Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust to help keep the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter in the air.
That was nearly three times the figure awarded in the 2022 appeal and included a third-share of the $7500 raised at the Westpac Taupō Golf Tournament. That was divided between the Taupō, Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti rescue helicopters to acknowledge their “outstanding” efforts during and after Cyclone Gabrielle.
“Times have certainly been tough but people are always pleased to know that funds raised in Tairāwhiti come back to the region,” says EHRT chair Patrick Willock.
“We are always incredibly humbled and grateful for the generosity of our local community.”
During the course of the appeal, in May, a total of $1.4m was collected for New Zealand’s rescue helicopters, nearly 10 percent more than that raised the year before.
“This year’s weather events around the country have underlined how important it is to have help close at hand, no matter where you live,” says Sarah Hern, Westpac NZ’s general manager of product, sustainability and marketing.
“Between them the helicopters fly about 25 missions a day throughout the country and are literally saving lives around the clock.”
The Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter service has grown from having an on-call commercial pilot and a borrowed ambulance paramedic, to a dedicated team of 12 – four critical care flight paramedics; four crewmen; and four pilots (with one pilot role yet to be filled).
While missions are funded through service contracts the EHRT still needs to find around $700,000 per annum to keep the team flying, with around half currently covered by naming sponsor Trust Tairāwhiti.
“That’s a big fundraising commitment to meet every year and we greatly appreciate Westpac’s enduring support of rescue helicopters around New Zealand,” Mr Willock says.
“That’s especially important this year, of all years, when continuing weather events have highlighted things we can do for even better resilience across our region, particularly up the East Coast.”
CAPTION: East Coast emergency service personnel provided a safe landing pad for the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter when it responded to an MVA event near Anaura Bay on Thursday (July 20). Picture by Jean-Pierre Jordaan.