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Without doubt rescue helicopter must be kept

Without doubt rescue helicopter must be kept

“It is imperative that the Auckland region keeps its Westpac Rescue Helicopter,” Mayor of Auckland City, Hon John Banks said today.

“I am not arguing with the rights or wrongs of yesterday’s High Court decision, which will see the helicopter trust lose its main income from slot machines. I am simply concerned about the serious ramifications of losing this service.”

Mr Banks said the Westpac Trust Helicopter performs 500 rescue missions a year – many daring, some dangerous. Since its conception in 1970 the service has performed more than 10,000 rescues. It is internationally recognised for its pioneering work in saving lives.

“The rank and file staff associated with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter are good people doing a good job. Their aging helicopter covers a huge region - as far north as Te Hana, and as far south as Meremere, including Coromandel and the Gulf Islands.

“I do not pretend to hold the answer but one thing’s for sure the latest uncertainty resulting from the loss of $4 million in annual income can not result in our region losing this much-needed lifesaver. A way through must be found.”

On Tuesday Mr Banks, a helicopter pilot himself, was in the Westpac Rescue Helicopter as it lifted off from Mechanics Bay for the last time and headed to its new base at the Auckland International Airport.

On that occasion Mr Banks said “the Westpac Trust Helicopter may be leaving Auckland Central but it will continue to serve the Auckland people.”

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