about us

The Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter is powered by a fully operational BK-117 Kawasaki helicopter with single-pilot instrument flight capability and operating around the clock, with a flight workforce consisting of pilots, crew, and in-house Critical Care Flight Paramedics (CCFP).

The Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter responds to callout to the roadside and off-road incidents, marine mayday calls, bush and mountain search and rescue missions, hospital to hospital transfers, and rural and remote medical and accident emergencies.

Central Air Ambulance Rescue Limited (CAARL) and Search and Rescue Services Ltd (SRSL) are registered charitable companies that operate 8 rescue helicopter bases covering the Central and Southern North Island, including the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter. To find out more, go to https://www.caarl.org.nz/


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Vanessa Richmond

Group Manager

Leads Philips Search & Rescue Trust and oversees the Fundraising, Marketing, Administration & Finance teams
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Sharni Weir

Fundraising & Marketing Manager

Leads all areas of Fundraising & Marketing. Oversees the delivery of fundraising, marketing & communication strategies
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Angela Cranfield

Finance Manager

Oversees and supports all things related to finance
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Kirstin Tye

Operations Manager

Leads all areas regarding HR, Training, Office Management & Finance

Renee Bosley

Fundraising & Marketing Executive

Supports the Fundraising & Marketing Manager, funding requirements, events and oversees fundraising campaigns
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Jenny Barris

Finance Processor

Processes donations that are made across all bases
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Ayshea Abela

Partnerships Coordinator

Supports our sponsors and corporate donor relationships
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Kaia MacGregor

Donor Care Coordinator

First point of contact for our generous donors, providing support with whatever they need
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Laura Hamilton

Database Coordinator

Undertakes the day-to-day coordination of our database and provides support to our donors
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Olivia Martinovich

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Manages social media accounts, content creation and communicates with supporters via campaigns & media
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Gillian Crompton

Marketing & Patient Coordinator

Looks after our community of patients and families, sharing stories with our family of supporters
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Kelly Buchan

Community Fundraising Coordinator

Supports community fundraisers, provides fundraising support and looks after our legacy program.
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Milla Ware

Fundraising & Marketing Assistant

Supports the everyday functions of the Fundraising and Marketing team

Millie Armory

Fundraising Support

Supports the everyday functions of the Fundraising and Marketing team


Specifications & Equipment

The Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter is a Kawasaki BK117. This single-pilot twin-engine helicopter has commonly been used as a rescue helicopter due to its speed, reliability and ability to fly close to cliff faces which makes it the best aircraft for all types of missions.


Your Pilots

With proven experience in a diverse range of flying conditions, and logging thousands of flight hours, a rescue helicopter pilot is trusted with the safety of all on board.

Euan - Pilot

Greg - Pilot

Lance - Pilot

Ross - Pilot

Your Crewmen

As the extra eyes and ears for the Pilot and the Critical Care Flight Paramedic during a mission, safety on board and around the aircraft is their priority including winch operation, navigation, obstacle identification and safe landing during flights.

Shem - Crewman

Waka - Crewman

Graeme - Crewman and Base Manager

Leigh - Crewman

Your Critical Care Flight Paramedics

A critical care flight paramedic is trained to perform advanced medical intervention and life-saving procedures within a rescue helicopter environment.

James - Critical Care Flight Paramedic

Rene - Critical Care Flight Paramedic

Schalk - Critical Care Flight Paramedic

Your Operations Team

Muir - Medical Director

Barry - Pilot Training Manager

Charlie - Chief Pilot

Chris - Chief Operating Officer

Graeme - Clinical Operations Manager

Hugo - Clinical Development Manager

History of the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter

The Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter was established in 1991, formerly known as the NZ Rail Helicopter. It has undertaken over 10,600 missions since its inception. The helicopter was based at the airport and was brought to life by generous volunteers. In 2003, the Philips Rescue Hangar was built by the NZ Army, officially giving the rescue crew their own base.

In 1996, the helicopter upgraded to a Squirrel AS350A machine and Tranz Rail took over as principal sponsor. It was rebranded as the Square Trust Rescue Helicopter in 2002. As the service grew, the need for a new helicopter became apparent and June 2015 marked the official launch of the new BK117, which continues to save lives in the Manawatu and Whanganui regions to this day. In September 2022, the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter was renamed as the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter.

Philips Search & Rescue Trust (PSRT) is the charity responsible for fundraising and promotion of the North Island’s largest pool of community rescue helicopters, including the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter. Encompassing a fleet of rescue helicopters, the service provides air health and rescue services free of charge to the public on a no-fault basis.
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