Hūhana Carter was gardening at her home in Charteris Bay when she fell 2.5m and needed the assistance of the rescue helicopter. She and husband Shane were loading garden waste when she fell from the trailer.

“We were putting the branches in, it was the very last load and one of the branches was caught in the cage and catapulted me up and over,” she said.

She landed on the concrete, cutting her head and breaking four bones in her neck. First on the scene were members of the Diamond Harbour Volunteer Fire Brigade, headed by chief fire officer Bob Palmer. He and his team decided they would call in the rescue helicopter, because of the distance and the roads, it would have been too bumpy.

“He called the shots and said ‘treat it as a spinal’. Those five words saved my life.


The accident happened in October 2019 and, despite the damage to her spine, the 61-year-old has made a near-complete recovery.

Hūhana said that “The helicopter staff were stunning. From the expertise of the fire fighters and the air ambulance, that’s why I’m standing today.”