Starship's air ambulance service gets $251,923 cheque from Christmas album sales

Christchurch mother Niah Evile Pule describes having to watch her 3-month-old-old baby struggle to breathe as the scariest moment of her life.

Her triplet daughter, Agaalofa Taisia Anae, had to be rushed to intensive care at Christchurch Hospital, where she was diagnosed with pertussis, or whooping cough.

Mrs Evile Pule, who migrated from Samoa in 2005, said she knew serious complications that could come with the illness, including pneumonia and brain damage.

"It was the scariest moment of my life, and I was so worried for my baby," said the 26-year-old mother of five.


"Agaalofa needed an oxygen tank to breathe, and when we were told our baby needed to go to Auckland for treatment, I didn't know how we were going to make it there."

They were transported to Auckland by Starship's national air ambulance service.

"It was like a private aeroplane for us that even came with a support person, and I couldn't believe how fast it got us to Starship hospital."

Agaalofa, now 6 months old, is back at home and doing well.

Yesterday, Starship Foundation was presented with a $251,923 cheque for its air ambulance service from Universal Music and Paul Ellis Publicity, the proceeds from the sales of the Starship Christmas Album 2012.

The Herald-supported album featured international and local music industry heavyweights including Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Queen, Elton John, Ronan Keating, Hayley Westenra, Tiki Taane and Lucy Lawless.

The artists provided their recordings royalty free in support of the foundation.

"In all my years in the music industry, I have never seen so many top artists come together in this way," said Paul Ellis, who spearheaded the project.


"The project was extraordinary and the quarter of a million dollar result is superb."

Starship's air ambulance flies medical experts to life-threatening emergencies around the country, including accidents, as well as transporting children suffering from serious medical conditions.

It cost around $1.5 million annually to fund the service.

Foundation chief executive Brad Clark yesterday thanked those who bought the Christmas album.

"By doing so, they are supporting children from all over New Zealand who, like Agaalofa, need the life-saving care of Starship's national air ambulance."