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Ruapehu fights for regional helicopter rescue service

Ruapehu fights for regional helicopter rescue service

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron has written to the Ministers for ACC and Health as part of a regional response to retaining a regional helicopter rescue service based in Taupo.

The recent release of a tender process for rescue helicopter services throughout NZ that does not provide for a Taupo based service to be part of future arrangements has caused widespread concern amongst Taupo, King Country and Central Plateau communities.

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said that in he had been in discussions with Taupo Mayor David Trewavas on the best way to respond to this issue.

“Mayor Trewavas and Sir Tumu te Heuheu from Ngati Tuwharetoa have written a joint letter to the Minister for ACC Hon Iain Less-Galloway and the Minister for Health Hon Dr David Clark asking that they intervene in the tender process to include a service based in Taupo,” he said.

“I have supported this approach by writing to both Ministers myself backing Mayor Trewavas and Sir Tumu te Heuheu’s appeal.

I have stressed that it is imperative that they ensure that the existing Taupo based rescue helicopter service provider has the ability to be included on an equal footing in the Expression of Interest process for New Zealand helicopter rescue services.

The Greenlea Taupo rescue helicopter is a vital and proven life-saving capability in the Ruapehu district.

Rescue helicopters in Hamilton, Palmerston North and New Plymouth that would be expected to take up this load would have a longer response/flight time and generally lack the intimate local knowledge that has enabled the Taupo helicopter to be so successful.

Not only has it saved the lives of many visitors in the National Parks and its environs but many locals also owe their lives and or those of those close to them to rapid interventions by the Taupo helicopter.

With the Ruapehu region on target to have over a million visitors per year in addition to servicing the resident population there is already a high workload.”

Mayor Cameron said that since the news broke both he and Mayor Trewavas have fielded numerous calls of concern and worry from people across our communities.

“By way of example a petition in support of the Greenlea Taupo rescue helicopter has already gathered well over 2,500 signatures.

This issue is of utmost importance and really is an issue of ‘life and death’ to the people of the Ruapehu and Taupo.

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