Kim Cranswick had hoped for a glimpse of the stars during a rare tour of Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1, at Mahia Peninsula, but was instead grounded by a couple of cyclones.
The Gisborne roading contractor bought the unique experience for six – along with a couple of night’s accommodation at a private bach – at last year’s Bayleys Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust (EHRT) Annual Charity Auction.
“We had planned to go around Christmas when my son was home from the United States, but it didn’t work out at that time,” he says.
“Then we had Cyclone Hale in January, and Gabrielle the month after that, and since then we just haven’t had a chance to get away.”
Given the circumstances, both Rocket Lab and bach owners James and Kristina Williams say they will honour their commitment to Kim and wife Karen Cranswick, as well as again offering the package at this year’s Auction Night.
“It wasn’t their fault we have had such terrible weather,” says EHRT event organiser Sara McNaught. “So it’s great to be able to roll it over for them.”
With fundraising obligations of close to $700,000 every year (of which half is met by Trust Tairāwhiti), the Auction Night is a critical part of EHRT’s work to help keep the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter in the air.
Last year – the first time it had been held since the pre-pandemic event of 2019 – the 337 guests helped raise a record $144,000 to put towards the life-saving service.
And this year the event is once again sold out, with guests booked to be at the Showgrounds Park Event Centre for Auction Night on September 22.
“We’ve had a terrible year defined by major weather events and multiple States of Emergency but, in the face of all this, our 2023 event has come together with incredible donations, auction items and support from our guests,” says EHRT chair Patrick Willock.
“For that we are incredibly grateful. Each and every dollar raised goes to the Eastland Rescue Helicopter’s work in providing critical search, medical and emergency support in some of the most remote and hard-to-reach parts of our battered, but not broken, region.”
And the Cranswicks says they will again be there on the night.
“We probably don’t need to bid on on another Launch Complex experience but we’re really looking forward to the tour we already have,” Kim Cranswick says.
“We’ve always loved anything to do with flying – I have a private helicopter pilot licence and my oldest son has an aviation business in America — so it is right up our alley.”
The family were also big supporters of the Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust, he added.
“I have seen the Eastland Rescue Helicopter team in action at various sites and their flight path up the East Coast takes them right over our (Back Ormond Road) home.
“They provide an amazing service and though we’re lucky not to have had to use it ourselves, it’s great to know it is there when it’s needed.”
Rocket Lab communications manager Murielle Baker says that as Launch Complex 1 is located on a cattle station on private land, visits for the public are extremely rare.
“This is a chance for six people to look behind the scenes at our launch pads, in the hangar where we keep and prepare our rockets for launches, through our range control centre for the best view in the house, and to meet the Mahia team behind our successful launches.”
Gifting the tour of Launch Complex 1 for the Charity Auction was a great way to connect with the community, Ms Baker added.
“Mahia is special not just as the location of our launch site and as a modern gateway to space, but as a beautiful place to be surrounded by great people.
“We’re committed to supporting our community and the Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust is an invaluable resource for the East Coast, so we’re very proud to get behind them.”
CAPTION: Kim and Karen Cranswick have already visited the space shuttle Atlantis at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida – twice – and are now eager to redeem the auction item they won at last year’s Bayleys Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust Annual Charity Auction . . . an exclusive tour of Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1.