Originally from Dannevirke, Shaun Stewart’s interest in helicopters came from seeing rescue teams land at a bridge – a notorious accident spot – near his rural home. By the age of 18 he had achieved his CPL (Commercial Pilots Licence) then spent 14 years in both charter and agricultural flying. Having racked up the thousands of hours needed for medical aviation, Shaun in January 2024 joined the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter team. “The team members are all here for one purpose, to help people,” he says. “Getting to be part of that is pretty cool.”