Friday, 30 October 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

National promises return of rescue helicopter

Scott Simpson, MP for Coromandel, and Dr Shane Reti, health spokesperson for the National Party, announced on Friday last week that a National government, if elected, will return a rescue helicopter based on the Coromandel over the busy summer months and long weekends.

The promise was made at Crosby Field, the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter’s base in Whitianga.

An amount of $1.1 million would annually be allocated from the health budget to fund the service.

Op to the end of 2018, a rescue helicopter was full-time based in Whitianga.

The axing of the helicopter led to more than 46,000 people signing a petition to return a rescue helicopter to the Peninsula. The petition was presented by Mr Simpson to the House of Representatives in June this year and was allocated to the Parliamentary Health Select Committee. The Select Committee will consider a submission on the petition once reconstituted after this month’s general election.

“The people of the Coromandel need a chopper based in [Whitianga] at the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust’s hangar over the summer months and at long weekends,” Dr Reti said on Friday. “National will bring it back. This is an extremely busy area and a cost can’t be put on saving lives.”

Mr Simpson said he was delighted with his party’s promise to the people of the Coromandel. “The petition I accepted on behalf of the Coromandel community signalled their anger, frustration and the sense of betrayal from the service being cancelled,” he said.

Most of the trustees of the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust joined Mr Simpson and Dr Reti at Crosby Field for the announcement on Friday. At the trust’s AGM at the end of July, Brian Bowering stepped down as chairman of the trust. Mr Bowering served as on the board of trustees for almost eight years. Former Chief Fire Officer of the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade, Merv George, was elected as the new chairman. Also elected or re-elected to the board were John Stephenson (Whitianga), Walter Russell (Whitianga), Nigel Strongman (Coromandel Town), Jennie Turner (Tairua), Andrea McCarthy (Thames) and Doug Walters (Whangamata).

Pictured: Those who were present at Crosby Field on Friday. From the left - Scott Simpson, Nigel Strongman, John Stephenson, Brian Bowering, Jennie Turner, Dr Shane Reti, Walter Russell and Leith Jackson (the Crosby Field manager).

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