Sarah Perriam shares how the helicopter crash has hit rural New Zealand

The AM Show 19/10/2018

The New Zealand rural community has been left heartbroken by the deaths of two Department of Conservation (DoC) workers and a helicopter pilot in a crash.

Nick Wallis, Paul Hondelink and another as yet unnamed person died when their helicopter crashed near Wanaka Airport shortly after take-off.

Mr Wallis brother, Matt Wallis, was also killed in a helicopter crash in Lake Wanaka in July.

Rural Exchange host Sarah Perriam told The AM Show her family knew Matt Wallis very well.

It's just ripped through the entire rural New Zealand.

"We lost our step brother in a helicopter accident and the Wallis family were very supportive through that time," she said.

"It's just ripped through the entire rural New Zealand, this accident, and the two DoC staff are a huge part of the fabric of Wanaka."

The Alpine Group, the company that employed Mr Wallis, said in a statement it had formed a strong working relationship with DoC and its predecessor the Forest Service.

"Alpine wishes to extend its sincere condolences to the families and colleagues of the crew of the helicopter which was involved in the tragic accident near Wanaka yesterday," it said.

"The men were not simply DoC workers, they formed part of a team of elite senior rangers within the Department. Importantly, they were personal friends of Alpine staff and ownership who are also grieving at this time."

The helicopter had been on its way to meet a Newshub crew in Haast to discuss the tahr cull, which begun yesterday.

"We were going to do an interview for Newshub and really we were putting all the previous weeks of tension we've had with the hunting industries behind us," DoC director general Lou Sanson told RNZ.

"We're all ticked off, we've got agreement with the hunters, we had three helicopters in the air yesterday, one from Westland and two from Wanaka.

"Our staff believed they were going to make a difference. Nick Wallis believed he was going to make a difference."

TAIC has opened an inquiry into Thursday's crash.

The tahr cull has been put on hold, Stuff reports.

Watch the full interview with Sarah Perriam above.

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