The New Zealand Defence Force has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 helicopter to support the Police’s search for a pig hunter who has been reported missing in the Makahika Ranges in Levin.
Air Component Commander Air Commodore (AIRCDRE) Darryn Webb said the NH90 medium utility helicopter, from the RNZAF’S 3 Squadron, flew members of the search team this morning to the high points in the ranges, about 100 kilometres north of Wellington. No further assistance has been requested by Police at this stage.
“This mission is another example of how we support other government agencies and deliver vital public service,” AIRCDRE Webb said.
Police were alerted when the hunter failed to return with the rest of his party last night. A civilian rescue helicopter conducted a search but heavy fog cut the operation short.
Last month, Police requested a RNZAF NH90 helicopter to assist in the rescue of a group of 38 people, including two children, who were stranded overnight in the hills in Central Otago. A heavy blizzard precluded the ability to insert support staff or extract those stranded, although communication assistance was provided to direct Police and ground rescue personnel to the site.
Since they were introduced into the RNZAF in 2013, the NH90s have been used for search and rescue missions, transport for military and government personnel, and lifting of equipment while also maintaining a counter-terrorism response.
The NH90 helicopters confirmed their ability to support a humanitarian aid operation on their first overseas mission in Fiji early this year, when they provided a critical link between the main population centres and the outlying islands which were devastated by Tropical Cyclone Winston. Almost 160 hours of relief missions were flown by the NH90s throughout the seven-week operation.