No matter where in the country you live, if you get into trouble, help from above is probably closer than you think.

Westpac is launching its Chopper Appeal Month to support New Zealand's rescue helicopters.

In Taranaki alone there were 199 missions last year, from the beaches around New Plymouth to the popular walking tracks of Egmont National Park. Nationwide, there were 7374 missions. It costs approximately $5000 for one chopper mission.

The Chopper Appeal aims to raise funds and awareness for the rescue helicopter services, with all donations going back to the region where they were collected.

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Tristan Hancock, Manager of the Stratford Branch, says for the Stratford Branch, the Chopper Appeal is important.

"We are a rural community and sometimes the only way to get quick access to medical care is via the helicopters."

The Stratford Branch is taking part in the nationwide street appeal on May 9. Pupils from Stratford Primary School will help collect donations on the street for a few hours during the day.

Westpac NZ General Manager of Consumer Banking and Wealth, Simon Power, says accidents can happen anywhere – including close to home.

"Chopper Country extends from our rugged mountain ranges and sweeping coastlines to right over the back fence," he says.

"Whether it's a medical event on a ski slope or a crash on a bike trail just down the road, choppers are there for Kiwis when something unexpectedly goes wrong.

"It's comforting to know that help is close by, no matter where we are. That's why we're proud to have partnered with the choppers for more than 35 years."

This vital service is funded by a combination of individual donations, fundraising activities and sponsors like Westpac. A total of $1.22 million was raised last year and the goal is to beat that again in 2019.

"We rely on ongoing support from our community and we're really grateful for their help," says Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust Chairman, Bryce Barnett.

"Each mission costs thousands of dollars on average, so every donation plays a crucial part in our next rescue. The public's generous support helps us to help them when they're most in need."

The 15th annual Westpac Chopper Appeal will run throughout May. It's supported by fundraising activities in schools and community centres.

Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the Appeal, and distributes all of the funds raised back to donors' local rescue helicopter trust.

■ Go to www.chopperappeal.co.nz for more information and to donate.
Ways you can donate this Chopper Appeal:
At any Westpac Branch
Online at www.chopperappeal.co.nz
Text your postcode to 2449 to make a $3 donation.