The possible canning of the Taupo-based rescue helicopter came "like a bolt out of the blue" to its principal sponsor Greenlea Premier Meats, which has given more than a $1 million to the service.

Managing director of the Waikato-based family-owned company Tony Egan said he was very disappointed to learn that under the National Ambulance Sector Office's call for air ambulance services proposals, Taupo was not included.

In the past 12 months, the helicopter has done 223 missions from medical emergencies to car crashes and rescues. It was called out 10 times during the four-day Easter break alone.

It provides a 24-hour emergency service, 365 days a year.


With 40 per cent of rescues occurring in the central North Island rural community, Greenlea's sponsorship was the beef processing company's way of giving back to farmers that supported it, Egan said.

"It's (the service) an intricate part of life for local farmers and the venture tourism industry and also because a lot of the rescues are very time sensitive."

Greenlea has sponsored the helicopter for more than four years.

Egan said he understood it was a Cabinet decision to do the open tender and all Greenlea could do was voice its disappointment through the Philips Search and Rescue Trust, New Zealand's largest rescue helicopter trust, which operates six rescue helicopters based throughout the Central North Island, including the Greenlea service.