Commercial helicopter doing survey crashes in central North Island injuring all five on board, two critically, one seriously

A helicopter carrying five people has crashed about 35km northeast of Waiouru this morning, injuring  all occupants.

The Civil Aviation Authority confirmed to 1 NEWS the helicopter crashed just before 9am today.

A spokesperson from Transport Accident Investigation Commission has confirmed to 1 NEWS five people were on board, including the pilot.

Five people were on board the Helicopters Hawke's Bay aircraft, which was taking part in a commercial survey. Source: 1 NEWS

Two men, both aged in their 40s are in a critical condition, Hawke's Bay District Health Board has confirmed to 1 NEWS.

Anther man, aged in his 30s is in a serious condition.

Two other men with less serious injuries were assessed by St John upon arrival at Bridge Pa airport by rescue helicopter. 

The CAA is sending three investigators to the scene this afternoon.  

1 NEWS understands the Defence Minister has been informed by NZDF that the helicopter is not one of their aircraft.  

The Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter Service, along with Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter and Greenlea Rescue Helicopter, responded to a chopper crash at Ngamatea Station in the Kaweka Ranges. Source: 1 NEWS

The crash occurred at Ngamatea Station in the Kaweka Ranges.

The Rescue Coordination Centre which coordinated the response to the crash says it was a commercial helicopter undertaking a commercial survey operation in the area. 

At 8.50 am, RCCNZ received an alert from the distress beacon on board, providing a location at Oturua Stream.

RCCNZ Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator Dave Wilson said another helicopter from the same company was initially sent to provide a fast, initial response to determine the situation, with the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter from Taupo arriving on scene soon after to provide medical care.

“Distress beacons can summon life-saving help to people who need it and get them to hospital faster. In this particular case, the alert from the distress beacon was the only notification that the aircraft had crashed," Mr Wilson said.

RCCNZ tasked two additional rescue helicopters with intensive care paramedics - one from the Hawke's Bay Helicopter Rescue Trust and the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter.  

"Our thoughts are with the injured passengers and we wish them a successful recovery," Mr Wilson said.

Obviously they were very relieved to have some assistance at that point - Nat Every from Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter

The circumstances around the crash are still being established and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission is investigating, he said.

One of the first rescue helicopter crewmen to arrive on the scene says the casualties were very relieved to have some assistance.

Nat Every from Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter told 1 NEWS that at about 9am this morning they were alerted by the RCCNZ to an active emergency locator beacon in the south eastern Kaimanawa Ranges. 

"We responded from Taupo with an intensive care paramedic on board, crewman, SAR personnel, just to  make sure we were fully catered for whatever situation on scene," Mr Every said, speaking after landing at Hawke's Bay Hospital.

"It was the bottom of a valley, a reasonably open valley in the edge of the Kaimanawa Ranges. And obviously this incident had taken place. And upon arrival it was just a case of doing the best we could and treating the injured people with the personnel we had and seeking the reinforcements we needed to successfully complete this task," he said.

"There are a range of injuries ranging from relatively uninjured to very seriously injured. And obviously they were very relieved to have some assistance at that point.

"So intensive care paramedic treated the patients as best he could at that point in time and we sought reinforcements to help with the transfer and the treatment of additional patients."

Nat Every from Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter says they called in reinforcements when they found multiple injured people. Source: 1 NEWS


Greens call to legalise safe drug testing before summer festival season begins

The Green Party wants to see safe drug testing legalised before the summer festival season begins.

Testing has already been taking place at some events, but the practice exists in a legal grey area.

"So no one here is saying that drugs are cool or fun, but we're saying that after decades of trying to say, 'Don't use them,' the reality is that they are being used and they do exist," Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick said. 

"Mums and dads, when they're sending their kids off to festivals, obviously, we'd hope that their kids aren't using these substances, but if they are going to use them, surely, you want to ensure that they're doing so in a safe way where harm is minimised."

Ms Swarbrick is confident that law changes can be made in time for summer, as Health Minister David Clark has already requested advice on what legislative change would look like.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick wants to see safe drug testing legalised before the summer festival season begins. Source: 1 NEWS


Government has room for improvement to curb mental health crisis, Mental Health Foundation says

It's a good start, but there's more work to do to curb the mental health crisis, the Mental Health Foundation says.

Described as a nationwide "epidemic", the issue took centre stage during last year's election and was a major drawcard for Labour.

Prime Minister and Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said at the time, "If you're going to talk about hope, then my view is we need to do something about mental health in this country".

One year on, Ms Ardern says the Government has "moved as quickly as we can" to improve mental health.

Part of the changes include dedicated mental health support in Kaikoura and Canterbury primary and intermediate schools; a $10 million cash injection to pilot free counselling services for under 25s and extended school-based health services to decile four schools.

Mental health campaigner Mike King said the Government "deserves more praise than we are giving them".

However, some say there is still room for improvement, including on the topic of suicide prevention.

Mental Health Foundation CEO Shaun Robinson said, "Now that's definitely been kicked for touch until the inquiry comes back. It does make sense in some respects, but there are probably some things that they could have done".

An overstretched workforce is also proving problematic.

"You know, it's all very well to say, 'We want services' or 'we want to put mental health workers into schools', but are those workers there?" Mr Robinson said.

The Prime Minister recognised the "workforce issue", and said the Government has "tried to scale it up as quickly as we could".

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick has spent the past week talking to university students, where education has also been a recurring concern.

"When somebody falls over and breaks their leg, you know that you call an ambulance, but when somebody's having a mental health breakdown, we currently don't have a go-to resource," Ms Swarbrick said.

The independent inquiry into mental health and addiction - due to report back next month - will form the backbone of the Government's response to the issue. Those on the frontline are keen to see what's implemented - and how quickly.

"This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a new ship," Mr King said.

"What I fear is going to happen is we're going to continue to throw patches on the old boat."

The Mental Health Foundation says there’s room for improvement in the government’s work on mental health. Source: 1 NEWS


Good Sorts: Meet the Good Sort who failed to finish cross country...twice

This week's Good Sort is Phoenix Horo from Rahotu School, a 45 minute drive from New Plymouth.

Phoenix was nominated by his teachers for failing to finish his school cross country not once, but twice.

Hadyn Jones explains all in the video above. 

Phoenix Horo from Rahotu School was nominated by his teachers. Source: 1 NEWS

Dame Valerie Adams announces second baby, plan for career finale at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Dame Valerie Adams is pregnant with her second baby.

But the 34-year-old insists the news does not spell the end of her glittering athletics career.

Instead, New Zealand's Olympic queen says she's still on track for her grande finale - a fifth Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.

Watch the exclusive interview above

In her only television interview, a delighted Dame Valerie told 1 NEWS she and husband Gabriel Price are expecting their second child in April next year.

"My pooch is a bit out, a little bit now, and I didn't want people to think I was just eating pies and not doing any training," Dame Valerie told 1 NEWS.

"The time is right for us to announce and it is a celebration."

The couple's first baby, Kimoana, turned one this week. Her birth represented victory in her parents' emotional and expensive battle against fertility problems.

The NZ Olympic queen says she plans to be at the 2020 games following the birth of her second child. Source: 1 NEWS

But wanting to add to their family while Dame Valerie is also in the twilight of her shot put career - and her fertility - it's left the couple with a difficult choice to make.

"I don't want to come end of Tokyo, look back and have any regrets. That's what I didn't want to happen because realistically, my fertility situation isn't great and this was my only chance. My timeframe was limited and I knew that. I'm 34 now and basically I'm going to menopause by the time I'm 43," she said.

"The risk of completing our family and training for the Olympics... I don't want that. First and foremost for me was actually giving Kimoana a sibling and completing a family. For us this is it.

"I don't want to be one of those should've, would've, could've. I've got the opportunity now, I need to take it. It's the same with sport, if you've got the opportunity, take it."

Just six months after Kimoana's birth, Dame Valerie was back in the throwing circle where she won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

This time, the double Olympic champion says she will have almost a year-and-a-half to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics.

"I think timing-wise it's all working out quite well for us," she said.

"It's more than what I got in Commonwealth Games, so, I'll take that. What I produced this year with a very short time that I had wasn't bad at all.

"It's possible to come out and have a pregnancy, have a baby and create your family but also go back to high-level sport, there's nothing that says you can't do that."

The Olympic legend is targeting the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 after announcing she’s pregnant. Source: 1 NEWS