Draw of the mountain too strong to resist

Fiona Aitken

Long serving Trustee Fiona Aitken has seen change over her seven years on the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust but her love of the region has remained a constant through her life.

A born and bred Taranaki girl she left the region in her teens to spend time overseas in Peru as an exchange student before returning to New Zealand and living and working in Auckland.

Fiona then returned to South Taranaki in 1991 and has lived there since, most recently in Normanby just north of Hawera and in the shadow of Mt Taranaki.

“It might sound a bit cliché but there’s something about the pull of the mountain – our mountain – that brings you back here if you have been away.”

Having commenced a career with the South Taranaki District Council at the i-SITE Visitor Centre she has since worked in a variety of roles including tourism, events and economic development, and was first appointed to the Trust in 2013.

“Our previous Chair contacted the Council looking for regional representation and my name was put forward,” recalls Fiona. She has remained on the Trust for the past seven years, but having worked for the South Taranaki District Council (STDC) for nearly three decades, the critical service that the Rescue Helicopter provides to her part of the region has never been lost on her.

“There are parts of South Taranaki that are pretty remote, and while there is no one mission that stands out, any mission involving someone from our area hits home. And that’s the importance of having this resource available for the whole ‘bump out the side of the North Island’ that is Taranaki.”

As well as her role as a Trustee and as Group Manager of Community & Infrastructure Services with STDC, Fiona has worked in a voluntary capacity for several organisations in the region including Plunket and the Hawera Intermediate 50th Jubilee Committee.

She is also a member of the STDC Relay for Life team raising money for the Taranaki Cancer Society and has run two half marathons.

Fiona commenced with the Trust in August 2013.