Life Flight

Each week 28 people need time-critical aeromedical care. With your support, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Air Ambulance Planes are there in their moment of need.

Life Flight saving more lives in the Central North Island thanks to $1 million grant from NZCT

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Life Flight, bolstered by a substantial $1 million grant from New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT), is extending a lifeline to those in need of time-critical medical care across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Northland, Gisborne, Manawatū-Whanganui and beyond by adding a fourth air ambulance plane to its fleet which will be permanently based at Hamilton Airport.

Life Flight, which operates the Wellington-based Westpac Rescue Helicopter and a growing fleet of air ambulances nationwide, is expanding its critical aeromedical services in the central North Island. The move, made possible by a substantial $1 million grant from New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT), marks a significant milestone in Life Flight’s mission to provide life-saving care in the air to New Zealanders in need. Life Flight, a non-profit organisation, has been a cornerstone in providing urgent aeromedical care for patients around the country for over 40 years.

With the support of NZCT, and other generous funders including Pub Charity, Lions clubs, and Rotary clubs, Life Flight is growing its critical air ambulance services to respond to an increased need from the community for its life-saving services. With this grant, Life Flight is not just adding an additional aircraft to its fleet but extending a lifeline to those in need of time-critical medical care across Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Northland, Gisborne and Manawatū-Whanganui.

“The air ambulance, based at Hamilton Airport, will provide faster response times and improved accessibility to emergency medical care for local and rural communities,” says Life Flight Chief Executive, Mark Johnston. Hamilton-based fixed-wing aeromedical services are provided on behalf of Waikato Hospital, having been assigned to Life Flight from the previous regional provider, Philips Search and Rescue Trust, following the retirement of its ageing fixed-wing aircraft.

Johnston emphasises Life Flight’s dedication to continuous improvement and innovation, which underpins its mission to provide exceptional care in the air across the country.

Life Flight began upgrading and expanding its fleet of air ambulance planes a couple of years ago as demand for our aeromedical services continued to grow, by up to 20 per cent year-on-year. Thanks to NZCT’s fabulous support, as many as 5,000 patients from the central North Island will be flown to critical care over the next decade.

– Mark Johnston, Life Flight CE

The additional aircraft will help address the pressing need for modernisation within New Zealand’s air ambulance service, ensuring more Kiwis have reliable access to life-saving aeromedical transport when every minute counts. The service will assist provincial and rural patients requiring urgent transfer to main centres for specialist treatment and care.

Life Flight’s air ambulance fleet of King Air B200C aircraft is well suited to New Zealand’s conditions, allowing access to more airfields across the country as these aircraft are capable of landing on smaller dirt and grass airstrips.

“These flying intensive care units (ICU) can provide true ICU and neonatal ICU capability,” says Johnston.

“Our aircraft also feature extra-wide cargo doors and automatic patient loading devices (PLDs) capable of handling patient and equipment loads of up to 300kgs, enabling us to provide more equitable access to health services.

The $1 million grant from NZCT takes their support of Life Flight to more than $2 million in the last 10 years and is the largest grant in Life Flight’s history. It will finance a significant portion of the fourth air ambulance plane, with the remainder covered by fundraising from Life Flight’s community of donors, partners and sponsors.

NZCT is a proud community partner of Life Flight’s mission to provide critical air ambulance services to Kiwis in need

– Mike Knell, NZCT Chief Executive


For further media enquiries, images, and to request an interview please contact:

Life Flight Trust
Sebastian Grodd
Head of Fundraising, Marketing & Communications
M. 021 509 578

New Zealand Community Trust
Ben Hodges
NZCT GM Grants, Marketing and Communications
M. 021 244 1577

About Life Flight

Life Flight is a non-profit organisation that operates the Wellington-based Westpac Chopper and a growing fleet of nationwide air ambulances based out of Wellington and Hamilton. Life Flight’s mission is to save lives, by bringing hospital-level care to patients wherever they are.

These life-saving aircraft, and the expert teams within, transport patients to higher levels of care, including flying babies to neonatal units, patients with rare or severe injuries to specialist hospitals, or connecting rural communities to tertiary hospitals.

Over more than 40 years of service, Life Flight has flown more than 40,000 Kiwis. Relying on the generosity of the community, businesses, and community partners, we maintain our fleet, train our crews, and continue our life-saving work.

About New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT)

New Zealand Community Trust (NZCT) is one of New Zealand’s leading charitable trusts dedicated to supporting and enhancing communities across the country. Established in 1998, NZCT’s mission is to provide vital funding for a wide range of community initiatives, focusing on the areas of sport, health, education, arts, culture, and community services. Through its dedicated support, NZCT continues to make a lasting difference in the lives of individuals and communities throughout New Zealand. For more information, please visit

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