Boost for Westpac chopper trust

GEORGE GARDNER
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2013
Waiheke Degustation
GEORGE GARDNER

GOOD CAUSE: International chef and NZ MasterChef judge Josh Emett cooks up his Bourbon and brown sugar pork ribs at the walking degustation lunch at Man O’ War Vineyard.

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A six-course "walking degustation" by six top chefs proved a hit with guests at the Man O' War fundraiser in aid of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.

The gourmet plates summer lunch was co-ordinated by NZ MasterChef judge Josh Emett at the Man O' War Tasting Room which donated the wine matches and provided the staff and venue for the second year in a row.

Punters were happy to pay the price of $195 a ticket - several had personal stories of the Westpac rescue chopper. Waiheke Island accounts for a third of its annual callouts.

Accident survivor Sue Barratt took the opportunity to thank the crew in person, who flew in to the bay for a short time.

"I fell and hit my head at home in Onetangi. I would have died if they hadn't taken me off in the helicopter."

Five-month-old Olivia Harte and her mum Sarah were also there to celebrate Olivia's birth, thanks to a successful Westpac rescue helicopter mission.

Helicopter trust board member Michelle Boag is "absolutely thrilled" with the $138,000 raised from ticket sales, a silent auction and a rowdy live auction run by MC John Hawkesby and auctioneer Mike van Wagoner.

Mr Hawkesby claimed there was an anonymous New York Times reporter and photographer in the crowd and they must be on their best behaviour to show the world "we Waihekeans aren't mad - we're just a little sunburnt".

A dinner for eight with Mr Hawkesby at Poderi Crisci went under the hammer at $11,000. A corporate event with the two sirs - Sir Graham Henry and The Mad Butcher Sir Peter Leitch - went for a staggering $21,500 and a last-minute auction entry donated by Josh Emett could not be resisted by one bidder who paid $11,000 to have Josh create a degustation dinner for eight in the privacy of their own home.

Mr Hawkesby urged the crowd to "furiously bid" for the final auction item, the Waiheke tradition of "absolutely nothing".

"It's nice to have absolutely nothing. You pay lots of money and you feel cleansed."

Headland - Sculpture on the Gulf selector John Gow and friends scooped the prize for $6000.

Ms Boag says having fewer auction items this year worked well.

"We are absolutely thrilled with the contribution. Thank you to all the locals and sponsors who did such a great job for us."

She says the trust's two helicopters are 25 years old and planning is under way to buy a new one within three years.

"All that will come from the public."

Auckland Council is planning to reduce its usual Regional Amenities Funding to the charity from $1.2m to $900,000 for the 2013-14 year.

Residents can make a submission by February 8 on this issue by downloading a form at rescuehelicopter.org.nz.

FLYING IN TO HELP

The Auckland Westpac rescue helicopter had its busiest Christmas and New Year holiday period on record with almost 50 per cent more missions than last year. Missions to Waiheke Island from December 24 to January 6 went up by a third with 18 callouts during the period. The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust is awaiting news on whether its bid for a licence to occupy at Onetangi Sports Park is successful, which will enable it to construct a dedicated emergency helipad so the choppers can land in bad weather.

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