Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter funding

March 11th, 2014 at 3:49 pm by David Farrar



This graphs is very powerful. The starting point is the funding as set by Parliament, and the later years are what has happened under some local politicians.

Whale blogs:

Parliament initially said what each of the services should get – it was $1,500,000 each for the biggies, the orchestra and the rescue helicopter.

Since then, the board has cut money from the helicopter trust for its essential rescue service to give to the orchestra for new harps and pianos.

That’s right – more than $1 million has been cut from the rescue helicopter and given to the orchestra.

Now there are allegations by Murray Bolton – the chairman of the helicopter trust and all round good bloke – that members of Tizard’s dodgy funding board might have been accepting tickets to the orchestra, the festival, the theatre and the opera.

The board says it has a “gifts and inducements” policy.  The rule is that no member of the board can receive ANYTHING worth more than $150.  If they receive anything worth less than $150, the have to declare the gift or inducement.

But Tizard’s dodgy arts funding board is keeping its register of gifts and inducements secret.

They have a secret register???

Stuff reports:

The Trust has accused the board that partly funds it of having a confidential gifts and inducements register.

Addressing a meeting of the Auckland Regional Amenities Funding Board today, trust chairman Murray Bolton suggested board members may have received free tickets from orchestra, theatre and opera businesses that they fund, and said it needed to make those gifts public.

The accusation comes in the middle of litigation by the trust against the board following big cuts in the funding the board provides the trust.

I’m against the litigation which I think is the wrong way to go. But I do think the helicopter service is quite right to make Aucklanders aware that their funding is being cut massively, with the funds going instead to the arts.

“We do not provide free helicopter joy rides for members of this funding board because ours is an essential service. We wonder if that has been our mistake.

“We wonder if free tickets to gala openings of the orchestra or the opera have been in play here.

“How is anyone to know? After all, you have refused to release your secret register of pecuniary interests. You refuse to tell us, the media, the mayor, or the people of Auckland just who it is that has been giving you gifts and why.”

Bolton said funding for the orchestra, theatre and opera businesses had increased every year while funding for the rescue helicopter had been consistently cut.

Board chairman Vern Walsh said there was no secret register for gifts.

“We can’t make something that doesn’t exist available,” he said.

So it isn’t a secret register, but instead a non-existent register! I think that is worse!

21 Responses to “Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter funding”

  1. MT_Tinman (4,392 comments) says:

    Surely the helicopter outfit should fight back by offering free helicopter rides.

    What would you rather do, fly around Jafaville on a sunny day or sit through a long and boring bloody opera?

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  2. alloytoo (1,037 comments) says:

    How do essential services get shafted in favour of non-popular music? (or any music for that matter)

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  3. kowtow (13,201 comments) says:

    I take it there’s lots of Asian chicks in the phillie.

    Not so many flying helos.

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  4. peterwn (4,284 comments) says:

    Litigation was probably the only way of forcing the issue, and the Helicopter Trust has an excellent chance of prevailing and the funding board should realise this and read this judgment:

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  5. Peter (2,094 comments) says:

    Orchestras are in the exact same business as Death Metal – the “make a noise and entertain the punters” business. Cut their public funding to zero. Death Metal, Reggae, Pop, Jazz and every other type of music survives without millions in public funding each year.

    If their wealthy benefactors won’t pay the full price of a ticket, tough.

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  6. wreck1080 (5,016 comments) says:

    Shows what a scummy place auckland has become, beats me why people want to live there.

    Dodgy mayor, bizarre funding priorities, non-elected maori on various boards, koha payments to develop land. What next?

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  7. Prince (158 comments) says:

    Makes sense. Who wants free seats in the Rescue Helicopter ?

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  8. chris (754 comments) says:

    Where’s the funding from? Central Government or Auckland Council? Regardless, I don’t see why my taxes or rates need to be spent on orchestras and the like. Rescue Helicopters and Coastguard should be. But why does something like the Stardome need to be funded (and other things like Auckland Zoo and Motat, which I know are council funded)? Surely these things should be able to stand alone by charging adequate amounts and/or doing their own fundraising.

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  9. RRM (12,564 comments) says:

    LOL – Piss off Rescue Helicopter Trust, don’t pretend you are so squeaky clean.

    When I worked in Auckland, my boss refused to donate to the Westpac helicopter. The funding arrangement for a giant photo of the helicopter on the wall of a certain downtown pub was his reason.

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  10. Manolo (22,012 comments) says:

    A few parasites, unable to stand on their own, are doing very well, thank you.

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  11. burt (11,462 comments) says:

    The lefties – they make the rules for others…. There is no need for a register of gifts ….

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  12. Elaycee (4,536 comments) says:

    @RRM (4.24pm): Your memory is correct….

    The Gold Times Trust allocated monies raised via gaming machines to Trusts associated with the Rescue Helicopter service. IIRC, the Crown (obo the SFO) alleged that between 1995 and 2002 (?), the GoldTimes Charitable Trust paid the trusts around $13.5 million, of which $5.8 million was given back for pub advertising that bore no relation to commercial reality. However, all accused were acquitted at trial.

    In 2014, things have changed – the DIA has a robust, back of house reconciliation system / banking system / monitoring system in place, compared to what was used during the late 1990′s / early 2000′s. And the Auckland Helicopter Trust is a totally different organisation etc.

    I have no axe to grind (apart from living in the Auckland area), but IMO, no city the size of Auckland can afford to have the Helicopter Service, Surf Lifesaving groups or Coastguard, underfunded.

    Indeed, they should take funding priority ahead of the likes of theatre, opera, orchestra, festival etc.

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  13. edhunter (578 comments) says:

    It’d be one thing if the trusts funding had stayed static but to have slashed by a council crying poor while funding to the arts has more than doubled across the board is pure hypocrisy and very poor money management by the council not that anyone is really surprised by that fact.

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  14. Lance (3,821 comments) says:

    I know….
    When you are lying seriously injured and bleeding out. The Philharmonia can play to cheer you up instead of the helicopter coming to save you.
    Great plan.

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  15. leftyliberal (655 comments) says:

    The reason their funding has been reduced is because they’re doing well in obtaining funding from other sources and in the running of the business, thus have less need to rely on public funds.

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  16. Scott1 (1,001 comments) says:

    I take it the Philharmonia can’t get anyone to give them a red cent then.
    About time to cut them loose I think.

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  17. flipper (5,297 comments) says:


    Absolutely correct.

    This is a repeat, pre to Banks/Shipley/Bolger (1990) of the (Lotto) Lottery Board carve up.

    It took serious surgery to ensure that the arts did not pinch everything.

    The decision by Brown’s flunkies will be fine with them – until one of their family misses helicopter rescue,.

    Selfish, snotty nosed bastards.

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  18. Johnboy (20,828 comments) says:

    Jeeze..Imagine the uproar if say Len got his dick caught in a sharp chink and the helicopter couldn’t come to rescue him cause they had no money for gas. 🙂

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  19. UrbanNeocolonialist (814 comments) says:

    It’s all about jobs for the troughers. Our own fault for giving the reins to self centred lefties.

    If you really want to communicate with south Auckland then every landlord should have a Labour/Len Brown surcharge highlighted in their rent to cover the extra rates costs he has created. Must be $10-20 per week by now.

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  20. BeeJay (113 comments) says:

    Murray Bolton is involved a lot of activities, but he has always been totally committed to Auckland Rescue Helicopter and deserves the right to raise serious concerns about the lack of funding for the Rescue Service. I believe the graph is upside down with the funding. At the top of the list should be the Helicopter Rescue service, Coastguard, Watersafe and Surf Lifesaving. How can they get it so wrong

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  21. trout (1,132 comments) says:

    It is difficult to make a judgement on the equity of funding without knowing the details of the finances of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter service. They derive a substantial income from ACC and have $13m dollars in the bank. I am wary of ‘worthy’ organizations that build up little empires that grow and grow without justification, They principle of ‘induced demand’ applies; the more helicopters you have the more they will be needed. Because of cost ($1000 per trip has been mentioned) helicopters were originally used sparingly but this practice has now gone by the board.

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