This article was originally published in The Valley Profile in June 2022: https://www.valleyprofile.co.nz/2022/06/22/new-vehicle-revs-up-waihi-landsar/
Waihī LandSAR can now tackle tough terrain for search and rescue in a new ute donated by OceanaGold.
Waihī LandSAR is a group of 24 volunteers available 24/7 to undertake search and rescue missions in Waihī and other urban and remote areas in Waikato and Bay of Plenty.
Chairman Darren Butler told The Profile the new four wheel drive dual cab ute would be a “huge asset” for the group.
“We do quite a bit of travel out of the area to assist with neighbouring search operations and regional training… but up until now we’ve all just relied on our own personal vehicles for transport to get anywhere. So to have a group vehicle available is a huge asset,” he said.
“[It] reduces the burden on the individuals… and being four wheel drive we get to do the areas that are out in the middle of nowhere so the four wheel drive side of things will be absolutely great for us.”
Darren said OceanaGold’s generosity to donate the ute to Waihī LandSAR, which had undertaken around five search and rescue missions this year, was “greatly appreciated.”
“Any income we get we need to fundraise ourselves… if [the new ute] wasn’t going to be from a donation, we probably couldn’t afford to go purchasing it and certainly nothing to the calibre of the vehicle they’ve just given us, so greatly appreciated,” he said.
Darren said the next step was to get a canopy, deck liner and towbar for the new ute to carry specialised equipment, which included stretchers and ropes.
OceanaGold said it won the ute in a Farm Source promotion and after recognising other organisations would benefit from the vehicle, decided to donate it to Waihī LandSAR due to its strong local presence and dedicated team of volunteers.
OceanaGold general manager operations Matt Hine said LandSar devoted hundreds of hours each year, with responses ranging from searching for lost hikers to helping locate family members suffering Dementia or Alzheimers.
“It’s a fantastic organisation which at its core represents reuniting loved ones [and] OceanaGold in conjunction with Waihī Farm Source are proud to support their ongoing work through the donation of the vehicle,” he said.