Locals have hit back at the axing of Rotorua's BayTrust Rescue Helicopter saying they will look to fund a replacement service themselves.

A small group gathered in the helicopter hangar today for what local barrister Jonathan Temm described as a "preliminary meeting".

"It's about saying look, this is what's happened, this is what we need to think about and what option do we want to take."

The announcement Rotorua would be losing it's locally based rescue helicopter service came last Friday, six months after National Ambulance Sector Office's (NASO) made a call for air ambulance services proposals which did not include Rotorua or Taupō.


Temm presented four options to the crowd for deliberation, before an informal vote on which option they preferred.

Option one was to do nothing, "just accept the decision and planned remedial coverage", option two was to object against the changes and carefully monitor the process, option three was to say it's "unacceptable" and start plans for an independent helicopter and option four was to "gear up" for legal proceedings.

Temm said there was no real enthusiasm for option four.

"It would waste a lot of money and the politicians don't listen anyway.

The most popular option was to "put together the framework" for an independently funded service and a follow-up meeting will be held in three weeks time, on November 3.

"We need to think about, can this legitimately happen and talk to some of the funders who could help with that process," Temm said.

"It would be a search and rescue service, with some contracted work."

There was a resounding cry from the group of "we've done it once".


The Rotorua rescue helicopter service was officially launched in 1992 and at that time it was funded by the community.

"Even now, we were funding 53 per cent of it," Temm said.

The changes announced last Friday will come into effect on November 1 and will see the Rotorua region covered by helicopters in Taupō, Tauranga and Hamilton.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said the community had worked and funded the service and there were people with a "lot of skin in the game".

She said she had attended the meeting to hear the public opinion and see the impact of the decision on the community she led.

"I sought assurance we would keep a level of service that would be kept the same."

She said it was a "very bad look" Philips had sold the helicopter during the tender process.

Lakes District Health Board chairman Deryck Shaw said last week it had a long meeting with the Ministry for Health.

"The board remain commited to making sure the services are appropriate to our area."