Rescue chopper, hospice charity plans similar

Two Palmerston North charities that found themselves sharing the same cash cow are confident there is enough to go around.

Philips Search and Rescue Trust, which owns and operates the Palmerston North rescue helicopter, and Greenlea Premier Meats today launched a venture where farmers can donate proceeds from cattle killed at Greenlea's plants.

The plan is similar to that of the long-running Arohanui Hospice beef scheme, where the hospice buys beef cattle up to 18 months old and sends them out to be fattened for 12 to 18 months on farms throughout Rangitikei, Manawatu, and Tararua.

In the past 21 years, almost $2 million has been raised.

In addition to its Palmerston North chopper, Philips Search and Rescue Trust operates rescue helicopters in Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo and Tauranga.

Each group needs to raise half its operating costs, or about $600,000 for the Palmerston North helicopter.

Philips spokeswoman Kylie Harcourt said about 40 per cent of all air ambulance missions were rural and the trust wanted to create a campaign that resonated with that community.

The Greenlea "Flight for Life" scheme, running throughout the North Island, allowed cattle or a set dollar value to be donated at the time of kill, with all proceeds going to the rescue helicopter nearest to where the livestock was supplied.

Greenlea has put $600,000 into launching the plan and has sponsored naming rights to the Taupo helicopter, now known as the Greenlea rescue helicopter.

Greenlea procurement manager Bruce Mudgway said he knew of Arohanui's beef scheme, and didn't think it would create a problem.

"There's plenty to go around."

Arohanui Hospice spokeswoman Robyn Boyle said: "We've got very loyal supporters who have been with us for 21 years."

Mrs Boyle said the hospice's cattle were sent to several meat processing plants, not just Greenlea.

The rescue helicopter was a worthy cause, and hopefully there wouldn't be any overlap, she said.

Manawatu Standard