Now, more than any other time in the services’ history, Northland’s Rescue Helicopters need help in the form of public donations, as the annual fundraising appeal launches today.
After saving many thousands of lives and completing more than 19,000 flights since 1988, the Northland air ambulance operation continues to be one of the busiest in New Zealand, over some of the country’s most rugged terrain.
And with an annual funding shortfall of $1.4m - which is made up of contributions from sponsorships, the Northland Regional Council and public donations - the 2016 fundraising campaign is crucial to the service.
The two-month long appeal remains critical to funding the hundreds of life saving flights for Northlanders and visitors to the region every year. For every dollar raised by public donations in this year’s Northland Rescue Helicopter appeal, the two principal sponsors Northpower and Top Energy, will match the figure dollar for dollar up to $150,000.
The consumer owned Northland electricity lines companies have supported the service since its inception in 1988 and have helped it raise millions of dollars since. Northland’s Rescue Helicopter annual fundraising appeal has an ultimate target of well over $200,000.
Northpower Public Affairs Manager Steve Macmillan says the 2016 campaign focuses on many of the parts of our community where the Northland Rescue Helicopters are so critical - forestry, farming, children, water-sports and our Northland roads.
This service is crucial to Northland and we can all make a difference by donating what we can. The consistent theme we hear from those who have been rescued is that they never thought it would be them in need. This appeal is a great opportunity to help others out in our community.”
Already in 2016 Northland’s Rescue Helicopters have completed more than 550 flights, with hundreds more expected before year end. The average cost per call-out is around $6800, while a return flight from Whangarei to Kaitaia alone costs more than $6600.
Rescue flight recipient Gillian Archer says the service is a must for the rugged Northland region, and one that the region could not go without.
It is the most amazing service, so professional. The pilots and crew operate it as a well-oiled machine that helps in any situation,” she says.