Andrew McMartin |

A new bariatric ambulance designed to care for patients with complex needs has been unveiled thanks to generous funding from Grassroots Trust Limited.

Hato Hone St John was pleased to host a ceremony on Thursday, 1 June at its archive centre in Mt Wellington, Auckland to dedicate the new fit-for-purpose complex patient ambulance vehicle (CPAV) which exhibits the organisation’s new Waka Manaaki livery.

Debra Larsen, the organisation’s General Manager Ambulance Operations – Health Services, says the kindness of Grassroots Trust means ambulance staff are better equipped for the transport of patients with complex clinical health needs, or people weighing up to 400 kilograms.

“This state-of-the-art vehicle is uniquely designed to care for patients whose needs go beyond what a standard ambulance can provide, particularly severely obese patients. There is more room, and the equipment enables patients to be moved safely into the ambulance while maintaining their dignity.

“The vehicle contains a hover jack, which can be inflated to raise a supine patient from the floor to stretcher height, a hover mat transfer system which reduces the effort to lift a patient by up 90 percent, and an electronic stretcher which can be widened from 60 centimetres to 90 centimetres. This prevents the risk of harm to our patients and to our ambulance staff during the process of lifting and transporting them,” says Ms Larsen.

There are five bariatric ambulances already serving patients throughout New Zealand – in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Christchurch, and Dunedin. The latest vehicle will join the Auckland fleet, with two more in the pipeline for other locations.

Martin Bradley, Grassroots Trust Executive Chairman, says it has been their objective to support Hato Hone St John in its journey of enhancing the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders and achieving health equity.

“It is important to Grassroots Trust that all our communities have access to such a vital service, and it is important that all services provided by Hato Hone St John are resourced to the same level.”

“Grassroots Trust is proud to support such an iconic service provided to our communities,” adds Mr Bradley.

Over the past year, Grassroots Trust has granted over 1.2 million dollars’ worth of emergency vehicles and equipment to Hato Hone St John, which Sarah Flowers, the organisation’s Grants Fundraising Lead (North) says goes a long way in helping patients throughout the motu.

“We are truly humbled and incredibly grateful for the kindness and generosity of Grassroots Trust Limited. Their support has been crucial in enabling us to make life-changing differences in the communities we serve,” says Ms Flowers.

Since April 2022, Grassroots Trust and Grassroots Trust Central have granted the following vehicles and equipment to Hato Hone St John:

  • Generation Four frontline ambulances for Te Awamutu, Morrinsville, Whakatane, and Gisborne.
  • Event Health Services ambulance for Hamilton.
  • Major Incident Support Team (MIST) vehicle for Dunedin.
  • Lifting chairs for Northland.
  • Neomates (paediatric safety belts for infants being transported in an ambulance) for Northland and Auckland.
  • Complex patient ambulance vehicle (CPAV) / bariatric ambulance for Auckland.

- ENDS –


  • Large, open patient compartment, which is customisable.
  • Improved infection control (closed patient compartment).
  • Ferno PowerX multipurpose stretcher with safe working limit of 400kg lowered, 350kg when raised.
  • HoverMatt air transfer system with safe working limit of 544kg.
  • HoverJack II air patient lift with safe working limit of 544kg.
  • Ferno EZ Glide PowerTraxx electronic chair with safe working limit of 227kg.
  • ELK lifting cushion with safe working limit of 450kg.
  • iNTRAXX railing system to secure loose equipment.


  • Grassroots Trust is dedicated to providing local funding to local communities.
  • They share the community's passion and enthusiasm for amateur sport, education and various charitable community initiatives and they're here to help.
  • Great care is taken to ensure funds granted are well used and for the authorised purpose, and many local communities have already benefited from a Grassroots Trust grant.
  • Grassroots Trust operates in accordance with the Gambling Act 2003 and is regulated by The Department of Internal Affairs.


  • Hato Hone St John provides emergency ambulance services to 90 percent of New Zealanders and covers 97 percent of the country’s geographical area.
  • Hato Hone St John is made up of a mix of full-time paid employees and volunteer staff.
  • Hato Hone St John has contracts with Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand and ACC who fund almost 90 percent of the operating costs for the ambulance service. The balance on what is required to run the service is made up from ambulance part charges, third-party contracts, and fundraising.
  • Along with the emergency ambulance service, Hato Hone St John provides a significant number of community health programmes and initiatives which help build community resilience. They include: Health Shuttles, Caring Caller, Friends of the Emergency Department, St John Youth, ASB St John in Schools, and Therapy Pets.
  • Hato Hone St John also delivers event health services, medical alarm services, first aid training and operates retail stores throughout the country.

Hato Hone St John media team
E | Ph 0800 756 334 (0800 SJ MEDIA)

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