Heli rescue


About LandSAR

We are a national volunteer organisation which provides land search and rescue services to lost, missing and injured all over New Zealand. Our volunteers operate in suburban, urban, wilderness and rural areas including regional and forest parks, shorelines and caves.

Our unpaid professionals offer their specialist search and rescue skills free to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via the New Zealand Police and the Rescue Coordination Centre. From July 2017 to June 2018 they donated over 41,000 hours to rescue operations to help save 65 people, rescue 191 and assist another 426.

We have over 3,400 trained search and rescue volunteers who are members of 60 local groups covering the length and breadth of New Zealand. There are also specialist teams such as LandSAR Search Dogs, LandSAR Caving, Alpine Cliff Rescue and Swift Water Rescue who operate on a local level where there is a requirement for these specialist skills.

The LandSAR Board is the governance body of the organisation and comprises of independent and elected Directors. The Board appoints the Chief Executive who delivers an annual management plan to support the Board’s strategies. He is supported by a small team of salaried National Support Office Staff.

The Patron of New Zealand Land Search and Rescue Incorporated is Lieutenant General Sir Jeremiah ‘Jerry’ Mateparae GNZM QSO.

“New Zealand has one of the highest rates of volunteer SAR involvement in the world.
Volunteers make up 95% of the people who provide the operational SAR response.”
NZSAR Annual Report 2015-2016

LandSAR is not just about skills, we are also about responsibility; a responsibility to empower change and developing and building value in other people’s people. Each year we train New Zealanders’ to respond in their communities time of need. It is this building of community resilience, through communities being able to care for themselves, that ultimately is our greatest outcome.


Our history as a volunteer Search and Rescue (SAR) organisation began in the 1930’s after two large searches in the Tararua Ranges. In 1934 NZLSAR began operating with local search and rescue groups and advisers appointed by the New Zealand Police. Funding was made available from a government grant that was channelled through the Police.

NZLSAR operated under this structure for some 70 years until 1994 when New Zealand Land Search and Rescue became a separate, incorporated society. Management of NZLSAR was carried out by a national committee made up of a chairman, treasurer, seven regional representatives, chairs of five standing subcommittees, a Police representative, a FMC representative and a DOC representative. Seven regions of volunteers and one representative each from Police, the Department of Conservation (DOC), the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, the Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) and the New Zealand Speleological Society formed the membership base. Subcommittees and working groups included Communications and Technology, Search & Rescue Dogs, Specialist, Training and Underground, Aviation, Medical, Swiftwater SAR and Vertical Rescue. Funding was increased and a fulltime administrative staff member was employed. The Police provided office space and facilities at Police National Headquarters, sitting alongside the Police national SAR coordinator.

In 2005 the national committee was replaced by a board of directors and a chief executive employed. In 2009 ownership of the organisation was vested in the grass root membership of approximately 2,500 volunteers. The original five institutional members became associate members.

Sixty dedicated local LandSAR groups and a few specialist teams now provide land based  search and rescue resources to the Police and public of New Zealand. The total membership of LandSAR in January 2020 was over 3,500 volunteers.

For more information on the local LandSAR groups go to our Contact page.

Some articles and images from the past may be found here in the Dunedin Public Library Scattered Seeds  archive https://dunedin.recollect.co.nz/nodes/view/201700

FMC has an online archive of historical records. If you want to do research using the archives then just follow the appropriate links on the FMC website.

LandSAR Board Chairs

1996 – 2002 Graham Thorp
2002 – 2006 Roscoe Tait
2006 – 2008 Ray Polson
2008 – 2012 Phillip Melchior
2012 – 2014 Dave Erson
2014 – 2017 Rex Hendry
2017 – Dave Robertson

Life Members

2006 Roger Barrowclough (Deceased)
2007 Roscoe Tait (Auckland)
2009 Tom Clarkson (Wellington)
2010 Roger Bates (Turangi)
2015 Dave Erson (Auckland)
2016 Patricia (Tric) Moller (Dunedin)