TODAY is the Westpac Chopper Appeal collection day -- the national fundraiser for all rescue helicopters across New Zealand.

In a special front page edition, the Wairarapa Times-Age recognises the work of the Life Flight Trust, the operators of our Westpac rescue helicopter, which in the year to March 31, 2016, saved 212 people in Wairarapa. That's on average four people a week. In two years, the helicopter crew saved 378 people on this side of the hill.

There are 16 rescue helicopter services in New Zealand, and all donations today will go back to the region they are collected from. Overall, 7590 rescue missions were undertaken by rescue helicopters last year. That includes 393 for Life Flight, across Greater Wellington and Marlborough, at a cost of $2500 on average per mission.

Rescue helicopters are called on when the emergency situation warrants an air response or when a hospital transfer is so urgent it can only be provided by helicopter.


Rescue helicopters are also dispatched to assist with accidents in difficult locations and support search and rescue and fire operations.

About one third of the funding for these services comes from the community and from sponsors such as Westpac, which has supported rescue helicopter services in New Zealand for 35 years.

Wairarapa's supporters include vehicle sponsor Fagan Motors, Mitre 10 Mega, LJ Hooker, WBS, Gray's Contracting, Qualchem and the Lions Clubs.

Life Flight CEO Alan Cook said they are continually overwhelmed by the generosity and support of the community.

"Every donation matters, whether it's a gold coin or $1000, it helps keep us flying 24/7."

Donations this month can be made at any Westpac branch, or at