The Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust FRIENDS fundraising campaign is now on.

Become a FRIEND and together we can save lives.

Over the next eight weeks representatives of the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter will be calling homes rallying for help – will you answer the call for help?

Taranaki Rescue Helicopter plucks mother and son off Snapper Rock

By freelance writer Sharyn Smart1960957_608983249149290_417450887_o

An evening adventure at Taranaki’s Back Beach had all the makings for an episode of the “Bear Grylls” TV show for an unlucky mother and son.

Fiona Grigg and her son Liam, 15, were “very, very thankful and humble” for the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter crew winching them off Snapper Rock.

“The helicopter came just after nightfall. My stomach sank at the thought of having to stay on the island for the night. I thought I might have to do a ‘Bear Grylls’ number – that is to survive with very little (except he carries a flint and a knife!!!).”

Fiona recalls the night’s events.  “Sunday night was fine and warm and the tide had just turned.  Two of the kids waded in and swam a little out to Snapper Rock.”

Within 10 minutes sea conditions had deterioratedand only Liam’s friend made it back to the beach.

Fiona, ‘swam and bobbed like a cork’ out to Liam.  They attempted to swim ashore from the far side of the island without success and returned to snapper rock. “It was the only thing to do as Liam was cold and a little confused.  There was no way I could drag him through the waves.”

Onshore locals lent husband John a cell phone to call for help.

Fiona continues “I got a bit shaky with relief when I finally realised the helicopter was for us and Liam gave me a hug.  I had remained calm and focused up until that point.”

Mother and son were located with night vision goggles and winched into the helicopter. “When Liam went up I was so glad to have a positive outcome for him.  I hate heights but it was better than spending the night cold, wet and probably hypothermic by morning.  And you didn’t tell us off, which I guess I expected – thanks.”

Crewman Jayden Strickland, was on duty that night and recalls that without an available rescue helicopter equipped with night vision systems and a rescue winch, finding and extracting Fiona and Liam from their situation could have been difficult.

“The extraction went smoothly, just as we train for, utilising a member of our volunteer marine team on the end of the winch. Fiona and Liam were warm and relieved once in the helicopter,” tells Jayden.

Fiona continues, “We always knew what an important job you guys do but now we have met you up close and personal. You guys were very professional, caring and positive and we would like to help you.”

“Thanks so much for the tea and milo, blankets, heater and the smiles when we left!!”


For a small annual donation of $50 you can join the FRIENDS of the Rescue Helicopter membership programme. As a FRIEND, if you are hospitalised outside of the region and require an extended period of recovery in Taranaki Base Hospital the Trust will transport you back. You will be transferred by fixed-wing or helicopter.  Special conditions do apply.

Remember any donation over $5 qualifies for a tax rebate.
For further information please contact the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter on

0508 4737 283 or <>

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