Founded in 1992, the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust was established to provide a rapid response rescue helicopter service for the province. Prior to this helicopters had been available in the region for emergency call outs, but they had not fulfilled the role of an air ambulance.

Initially the Trust utilised a helicopter that was available on a semi-dedicated basis, resulting in the helicopter being called away from its current task when an emergency arose. However, it quickly become apparent that a machine solely dedicated to rescue work was required.

In 1999, the decision was made to invest in a 100% dedicated air ambulance, search and rescue helicopter. Coming onboard as a major sponsor, Taranaki Electricity Trust, made this upgrade possible. A hangar was constructed at Taranaki Base Hospital.

By 2003, a helicopter upgrade was required and the Trust shifted to an AS 355 F1 Squirrel, allowing for a greater payload to be carried. This was followed by the Trust purchasing a helicopter in 2007, an Agusta Westland Koala 119.

CAA’s enforcement of rules preventing single-engine helicopters from operating in and out of hospitals in urban areas required the Trust to review its current fleet, as a compromise could not be reached with CAA.

March 2011 saw a second-hand twin-engine Agusta 109 Power purchased which arrived in August 2011 after being fitted with necessary medical communication radios, a DZM system and meeting NZ Certification.

Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust has now had a helicopter in the air for twenty one years and is flying 200-250 hours of rescue missions per year. Taranaki is a dynamic and diverse area, offering a playground of attractions and activities. These same attractions can become major hurdles for emergency services and the rescue helicopter works collaboratively with others to reduce these hurdles.