Emergency services will now no longer have to grapple with sheep and mud with the building of a fenced concrete rescue helicopter pad at White Domain in Porangahau.

A group of locals armed with shovels were out in force last Thursday to build the pad, a community initiative sparked by health and safety concerns.

Resident Paula Stoddart said that for years now the Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter had landed on the rugby field, at night guided by a remotely activated light.

"Being a rural community we have a lot of emergency call-outs - this summer alone there were eight.


"Sheep are grazed on the rugby field and we started getting complaints from the helicopter pilots and paramedics about the droppings getting between the wheels of the stretcher and on their boots."

Stoddart said this would then be trailed on to the helicopter and into the hospital emergency department, and had become a health and safety issue.

If sheep were in the paddock at the time of a call-out it would mean bringing in fire brigade volunteers to wrangle the sheep while the helicopter landed, she added.

"It involved a lot of people."

Discussions were held with the helicopter trust, which told them about how a group of Mahia locals in the same position had built their own concrete pad and fenced it off.

After consultation with Lowe Corporation management, the council (which owned the land that was managed by the rugby club) and Porangahau emergency services a similar plan was devised.

"Local farmer Paul Cameron, who had volunteered for St John for 30 years, then went out on his own and built the foundations."

Then the concrete arrived and it was all hands on deck to get it laid.


Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter general manager Ian Wilmot said it was a fantastic community effort.

"They have taken it on a community project which we applaud - we gave them a properly engineered design to follow that will take the weight of the helicopter, and they got the money together to do the job.

"We are really pleased to have been part of it - it's a great initiative."