Taupō will retain its rescue chopper service, Health Minister David Clark announced today.

"Taupō's high volume of search and rescue operations means it makes good sense to have a shared emergency response approach at this base," Clark said in a statement.

In April more than 1000 people marched through the streets of Taupō to protest the potential removal of Taupo's Greenlea rescue helicopter.

Today Taupō mayor David Trewavas said the news was slowly filtering out to the community who were "just over the moon".


"Basically extreme common sense has prevailed and this is fantastic news for us.

"With the number of call outs and the nature of the areas our service covered, this decision makes sense."

He said he wanted to thank model Rachel Hunter, former Prime Minister Helen Clarke, march organiser Jan-Maree Quinn and John Funnell, who began Taupō's rescue helicopter service in 1985, for the work they had done.

"But most of all, it's the community I would like to thank.

"They rallied around and showed the government how they felt, the government only took notice because of the public outcry."

Funnell said he was absolutely delighted by the outcome and what it meant for Taupō.

"Obviously the Government has listened to the people of the central North Island.

"I do feel for the people of Rotorua, they put a lot of money and energy into their helicopter."


Rotorua is losing its locally based rescue helicopter service.

Quinn said she was "pretty ecstatic".

"I got very emotional when I got the phone call telling me. It's been a really big concern for me now for a long time.

"The news has really pleased me, to know the people that visit are going to be safe and the locals are going to be safe, to have no more fear of what happens if we do run into trouble."

Taupō MP Louise Upston said she was incredibly grateful the Health Minister listened to Taupō locals.

"I can understand the disappointment and frustration of the people of Rotorua who have lost their local base, it would always be preferable for each area to have their own services so emergencies are better resourced and attended more quickly."

Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey said we only need to look at recent headlines to see the absolute necessity for air ambulance services to be active in search and rescue or emergency situations around the Taupō rohe.

"No New Zealander will argue with this."

He said he was proud this essential service would now be strengthened and provide a greater level of airborne relief to the people of the Waiariki and visitors in their moment of need.

Clark said today's announcement, the second in principle agreement for air ambulance services, was a key part of an improved national service and followed a recent announcement covering Auckland and Northland.

An announcement on the South Island service will be made later this month.

"Modernising our air ambulance services is a major undertaking and the Government invested an extra $82.9 million over four years into these services in the 2018 Budget.

"These changes will deliver a safer, better service that is firmly focused on patients," Clark said.

It is part of a 10-year programme to increase crew numbers, reduce callout times and ensure all air ambulance helicopters are twin-engined, allowing more space to treat patients while in the air.

Rescue helicopter services are generally funded around 50 per cent by the Government and 50 per cent by the community via sponsorship and donations.