The Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST) is a charitable trust established to provide a dedicated emergency rescue helicopter service for the people of Northland. The Trust is supported by the generous contributions made by local sponsors, individuals, families, businesses and organisations. A Board of Trustees governs NEST and oversees its strategic direction and management. All NEST trustees are Northlanders. We know about Northland’s unsealed roads, our changeable weather and the fact that our people live over a wide-spread area that’s often difficult to access quickly by road. We’re also aware of the increased risk of death and serious injury caused when medical treatment is delayed – all of which makes Northland’s Rescue Helicopter service so essential.



In our hangar based in Whangarei city, is the team who help organise all our work behind the scenes. That includes everyone from those who manage our operations and accounts to the experts busy fixing our fleet.


NEST has three Sikorsky S-76A emergency rescue helicopters. We’re the only service in New Zealand using this model of emergency helicopters providing world-class capabilities and we have world-class pilots to fly them.


Our choppers are crewed by St John Flight Intensive Care Paramedics who are experienced pre-hospital emergency clinicians and provide medical care and treatment. They also serve as the winch operators on search and rescue operations.


Our engineers ensure that our helicopters are safe and in good condition.


Paul Ahlers


David Keys

Deputy Chairman

Tim Davidson


Tony Devanney


Murray Broadbelt



We are proudly supported by a number of sponsors – thanks for all your help!

NEST would also like to acknowledge the financial support provided by the people of Northland, without whose ongoing support we would be unable to maintain this valuable service. Considering becoming a sponsor? Just click on the link to register your interest.



Saving lives since 1988

The idea for the Northland Emergency Services Trust was conceived at a public meeting called at the request of the Auckland Surf Club in 1988.  The meeting discussed the idea of having a rescue helicopter in Northland for three months over the summer period. Joyce Ryan, who was Whangarei’s mayor at the time, asked those present if they thought the money that was being asked for, to run the service for three months, seemed fair.  After discussion, the St John contingent said: “We can do the same job for the same money, but for the whole year.” While costs exceeded those envisaged in 1988, NEST believes its service has far exceeded Northlanders’ expectations. It transported its first patient on Tuesday 15 November 1988, and has since carried more than 16,000 in 25 years to safety.

In 1988, when NEST began, its emergency helicopter was a Bell Jet Ranger – which is a basic single pilot, one engine and one patient rescue helicopter.  The Bell Jet Ranger is the most popular helicopter ever built with over 6000 flying worldwide.  It also has one of the best safety records of any helicopter on the market, which made it the perfect choice for NEST when we started.

In 1991, the Bell Jet Ranger was replaced with a more powerful Eurocopter Squirrel emergency helicopter and in 1994 the Squirrel was replaced with a twin-engine Eurocopter BK117. In 1997, the first Sikorsky S-76 emergency helicopter joined our fleet and today we can rely on our three Sikorsky helicopters to service the needs of Northland.

When the people of Northland decided to set up a rescue helicopter service back in 1988, they aimed to provide one that was wholly community-owned and supported. NEST has achieved this and aims to retainits foundations within the community it serves.  It also intends to continue to provide the people of Northland with an excellent, safe, effective and efficient service, and will do so by maintaining its present course – one of providing first class flight crews aboard top class aircraft.



The latest report from Chairman, Paul Ahlers

The Northland Rescue Helicopter has now been established for over 27 years serving the people of Northland. In that time we have seen the service grow from a part time single engine machine crewed by volunteers, into a full time operation with several aircraft and highly skilled staff.

The fantastic support provided by the people of Northland has enabled the service to constantly improve to a level where we now provide 24/7 support to the entire Northland region and beyond. It is a world class service that Northlanders should be extremely proud of.

Our aircraft are capable of flying to any area in Northland within an hour and transporting patients to the best equipped hospital for treatment. Over the last 12 months we have flown 895 missions and transported almost 1,000 people to hospitals or medical facilities around the north. Our helicopters are in the air 2-3 times a day, saving or making a huge difference to the lives of everyone we carry. Most people in Northland have a loved one or someone they care about, that has been flown in the helicopter.

Our rescue helicopter service is widely recognised as a leader in the EMS field, and many of the innovations that NEST has developed over the years are now in use by other operators around the country and indeed the world. We recently developed a flight training device using a real life helicopter cockpit and advanced computer graphics to create an extremely realistic flight simulation. This allows our pilots to complete training hours in the simulator rather than using valuable time in the real helicopters.

The Trust’s results for the financial year ended 31/03/2016 are sound and we have shown a small surplus for the year. This is of course pleasing from a governance perspective, but we are always aware that a large maintenance bill or unscheduled event could easily turn a small surplus into a loss. A copy of our audited financials is available on our website along with other essential governance information.

Like most other ambulance operators, the Trust receives only partial funding from Government which covers approx. 75% of our total operating costs. The balance is covered by the community through sponsorship and donations. We are extremely grateful for this support and in particular our thanks go to our key sponsors Northpower, Top Energy, Oxford Trust, and of course the Northland Regional Council for its continued support in funding this valuable regional service.

The major strategic objective for the Trust Board remains the upgrading of our aircraft. Historically, the Trust has done extremely well to keep up with the increased demand in our services and has purchased suitable aircraft in order to match that demand. Over the years we have upgraded our existing aircraft as much as possible including new avionics and safety equipment, but we are now at a point where we need to consider later model aircraft in order to take the next steps in technology and innovation. Newer aircraft are considerably more expensive but the Trust is committed to finding an upgrade pathway over the next few years.

I would take this opportunity to thank my fellow trustees, pilots and staff, paramedics, hospital staff, and emergency workers who work tirelessly in support of the Northland Rescue Helicopter. And of course, a special thanks to the people of Northland for having the vision to launch the service, the courage to keep it going, and your continued support into the future.


Paul Ahlers


Following high standards of corporate governance

The Trustees of NEST acknowledge and support the need for the highest standards of corporate governance, practice and ethical conduct by all of our Trustees and employees of the Trust. A copy of relevant documents from our Governance Manual can be viewed below.


For the year ending 31 March 2016.

A copy of our last set of audited financial statements is available for viewing on the Charities Commission website.

Total Expenditure: $5,027,000

  • Repairs and Maintenance
  • Insurance
  • Depreciation
  • Direct Wages
  • Other Direct Costs
  • Administration
  • Fuel Costs

Total Revenue: $6,276,000

  • Helicopter Hire
  • NRC Grant
  • Electricity Sponsors
  • Donations (including public appeal)
  • Oxford Sports Trust
  • Capital grants
  • Bequests/ Other