Chopper stays in Taupo¯
Taupō leaders and residents are “over the moon” the town will retain its rescue chopper service.
“Taupō’s high volume of search and rescue operations means it makes good sense to have a shared emergency response approach at this base,” Health Minister David Clark said when making the announcement last Friday.
In April more than 1000 people marched through the streets of Taupō to protest the potential removal of the Greenlea rescue helicopter.
“Basically, extreme common sense has prevailed and this is fantastic news for us,” Taupō mayor David Trewavas said.
“With the number of call-outs and the nature of the areas our service covered, this decision makes sense.”
He thanked model Rachel Hunter, former Prime Minister Helen Clark, march organiser Jan- Marie Quinn, and John Funnell, who began Taupo¯’s rescue helicopter service in 1985, for the work they had done.
“But most of all, it’s the community I would like to thank. They rallied around and showed the government how they felt. The government only took notice because of the public outcry.”
Mr Funnell said he was absolutely delighted by the outcome and what it meant for Taupo¯.
“Obviously the Government has listened to the people of the central North Island.”
It was a shame Rotorua would lose its rescue helicopter under the new arrangements.
“I do feel for the people of Rotorua. They put a lot of money and energy into their helicopter.”
Jan-Marie Quinn said she was “pretty ecstatic”.
“I got very emotional when I got the phone call telling me. It’s been a really big concern for me now for a long time. The news has really pleased me, to know the people that visit are going to be safe and the locals are going to be safe, to have no more fear of what happens if we do run into trouble.”
Taupo¯ MP Louise Upston said she was incredibly grateful the Health Minister listened to Taupo¯ locals.
“I can understand the disappointment and frustration of the people of Rotorua who have lost their local base. It would always be preferable for each area to have their own services so emergencies are better resourced and attended more quickly.”
The revised service will begin on November 1, and Health Minister David Clark said this was the first part of a 10-year programme that would increase crew numbers and reduce call out times.
Within the central North Island region concerns had been expressed about proposals to replace bases in Rotorua and Taupo¯ and instead provide coverage with helicopters from neighbouring centres.
A protest against the axing of Taupo¯’s Greenlea rescue helicopter in April attracted around 1000 people.