More than 7590 rescue missions were undertaken by rescue helicopters throughout New Zealand last year - including 300 in Hawke's Bay.

As part of this month's nationwide Westpac Chopper Appeal, the Hawke's Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust is asking locals to give generously to get behind their local helicopter.

The appeal aims to raise funds and continued awareness for the 16 rescue helicopter services operating around the country, with all donations going back to the region they are collected from.

Westpac's director of corporate affairs, Sue Foley, said the country's rescue helicopter services often made a life-or-death difference for New Zealanders.


"The rescue choppers are intensive-care units providing a dedicated 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service. Without them, the reality is many Kiwis could lose their lives because help cannot reach them in time."

Ms Foley said sadly there would be thousands who would need their local chopper over the coming year and that was why we should all support this service.

"We never know whose turn will be next to need the service, which is why it's important we all give generously as every donation counts."

The choppers are called on when medics think getting a patient to hospital quickly will make a big difference. They also assist with accidents in difficult locations and support search and rescue and fire operations. The majority of funding for this unique service comes from the community - from sponsors like Westpac, a proud supporter for 35 years, and other fundraising activities.

Hawke's Bay trust marketing and fundraising manager Laura Hyde said: "We're continually overwhelmed by the generosity of locals, and are very proud to have the support of our community. It's these donations that allow us to carry out our rescue missions on a daily basis, making a huge difference in many people's lives. Just as every minute counts in a life-or-death situation, every dollar counts when it comes to keeping our services available. Every donation matters, whether it's a gold coin or $1000, it keeps us flying 24/7."

Running throughout May, the Westpac Chopper Appeal is supported by open days at the helicopter bases, a variety of fundraising activities in schools and community centres, as well as a nationwide street appeal this Friday, May 6.

Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the appeal, and distributes 100 per cent of funds raised back to the local rescue helicopter trust.

Everyone who donates online at during May will have the unique opportunity to upload their Facebook profile picture and it will be printed on one of New Zealand's rescue helicopters, making it The People's Chopper.

The People's Chopper will be around throughout June, including at the National Fieldays at Mystery Creek. You can also look out for photos and video of The People's Chopper on Facebook and Instagram.

- Donations can be made at any Westpac Branch, or visit to get your profile picture printed on The People's Chopper.