Coromandel first responders have rescue helicopter removed, warn Government it could endanger lives

A Coromandel rescue team is warning the Government that a lack of funding could endanger lives.

Whitianga will not have a rescue helicopter for the first summer in more than a decade.

Coromandel Rescue Trust chairperson Brian Bowering said the country is already on low supplies.

"We had an incident here a couple of months ago [where a] young lady had an accident on a quad bike," he said.

"There was no available helicopter in the North Island on a Sunday afternoon, not one."

The health sector is struggling without enough funding, but the whole country is feeling the pressure, he added.

"St John are under an immense amount of pressure. The whole medical rescue system in New Zealand is not a happy scene at the moment, I'm afraid. It has been getting progressively worse because of bureaucratic interference."

The Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust provides the base for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, which is partially funded by the government.

The first responders based in the Coromandel believe the removal of their rescue helicopter is just the tip of the iceberg.

Bowering added that "things were fine" before regulations were changed, but now they have nothing left.

"All we've got left here now is a hanger and a four-bedroom crew house and no helicopter, no crew."

In a statement, National MP for Coromandel Scott Simpson said the removal of the helicopter was a "slap in the face" for locals and visitors.

"We've been completely let down by the Labour Government who promised there would be no reduction to rescue helicopter services for the Coromandel Peninsula, but here we are this summer without a much-needed machine and crew based in Whitianga," he said.

Simpson said it's a "very cold comfort" for any potential patients in Coromandel who may need urgent and quick access to a rescue helicopter.

"David Clark needs to take a break from his holiday and issue an instruction to have a helicopter relocated back to Whitianga this week," he said.

A Government spokesperson said the decision to remove the helicopter came from the Ministry of Health and is not a Government funding issue "despite what Scott Simpson says".

The Ministry of Health was unavailable for comment.