Media release

ORC continues its strong support of Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust

Wednesday 24 November 2021

The Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter Service undertook another record number of rescues and flew 30 percent more mission hours than last year.

The Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust presented its 2020-21 annual report to an Otago Regional Council (ORC) meeting today. ORC is a major funder of the Trust, donating $350,000 annually.

ORC Chair Andrew Noone said the report showed HeliOtago, the rescue service operator, has been called on even more over the past year.

“HeliOtago and the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust do exceptionally valuable work for the people of our communities across Otago and Southland, undertaking 1,703 emergency patient retrievals across the lower South Island, which is a significant 28 percent increase on the previous year. They have also continued to upgrade medical equipment and develop GPS routes that enhance their response to patients in need.”

“ORC is very pleased to continue our support of the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust and their important service to the lower South Island. We recognise that this increased effort needs to be funded and it’s great that the trust is also pursuing further funding avenues in the Southland region, where a significant portion of the essential rescue helicopter work takes place.”

Because many life-saving procedures cannot be undertaken outside of Dunedin, HeliOtago and the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust play a vital role in retrieving patients for medical emergencies and transfers, as well as responding to accidents and search and rescue operations.

The Annual Report was presented by Stephen Woodhead, Trustee of the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust, Graeme Gale, Managing Director HeliOtago, and Vivienne Seaton, Secretary Manager of the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Their presentation highlighted some of the challenges that community funding groups had experienced with restrictions on gatherings during the Covid-19 pandemic but recorded appreciation that groups had pivoted their activities and that the settled Covid situation in the first half of 2021 had enabled various fundraising activities to go ahead.

It also welcomed two new corporate sponsors – Network Waitaki Ltd (Silver sponsor) and Ravensdown Ltd (Bronze sponsor). The Trust is presently fundraising to support day to day operations that are not fully Government funded as well as for further new and replacement equipment. They noted that ongoing growth in demand for the service needs to be supported by fundraising activities.

Trustee Stephen Woodhead said, “during the year, the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust is grateful to have received generous donations from individuals and community organisations, and this ongoing support is relied on to ensure the continued delivery of this vital service across our vast and geographically challenging area, providing critical care in often desperate situations.”

To view the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust’s 2021 Annual Report, visit their website.


The Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust Airbus H145 twin-engine helicopter in flight.

The Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust Airbus H145 twin-engine helicopter in flight.