When most people were relaxing on Saturday morning, James was writing a Christmas card and raiding his pocket money to buy chocolates for the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter team, and to fund a $20 donation to the Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust (EHRT).
“Kids with autism can get fixated on things and for James it’s always been emergency services . . . firefighters, ambulances and especially rescue helicopters,” says dad Justin, who accompanied James to the hangar to make his donation.
“Where we live we can often hear the helicopter landing at Gisborne Hospital and he is fascinated by it every single time.”
James’ Saturday morning visit to the hangar, at Gisborne Airport, was not his first.
In the weeks after Cyclone Gabrielle, Justin Moore spent time at the airport as he’d often be flown by helicopter to his work as Ruatoria’s rural police officer.
“In those early days we still didn’t have decent internet so we’d park outside the hangar and, with the team’s permission, use the wifi they had installed,” Justin says.
“One day they returned from a job and invited us in, so James ended up having a feed and a good chat while I got on with my work.”
In terms of being a community champion, James and his three siblings have good examples right at home: both Justin and wife Laurelle have been involved in taxing step and stair challenges to raise funds for organisations from Leukaemia and Blood Cancer NZ to the Fred Hollows Foundation.
And Justin has had a few saves himself. Back in January, as Cycle Hale was bearing down the East Coast, he helped rescue a family of three whose car had become stuck in a swollen and dangerous river near Ruatoria.
“But James has always been a really kind person in himself and we’re very proud of him,” Justin says.
“The moment we got home from the hangar he was video-calling a friend, who also loves helicopters, to say he’d send some of the stickers the team had given him. He’s just like that.”
In the card James had made himself, he thanked the team for their service “and for saving so many lives”.
“I just want to recognise all the hard work your team has done this year, especially during Cyclone Gabrielle,” he wrote. “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
CAPTION: A long-time supporter of the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter, James Moore called into the hangar on Saturday to bring a special gift for the team.