HNZ History

From one helicopter to the four corners of the world

HNZ Group can trace its roots back to 1947 when a predecessor company pioneered the use of a single light helicopter for aerial application of insecticides on fruit tree orchards in British Columbia. The fledgling company, known as Okanagan Air Services, operated the first commercially licensed helicopter in Canada.

Over the years our operations have grown and flourished, expanding both organically and through a series of acquisitions and reorganizations.

In 2011 Helicopters (NZ) Limited, Helicopters Australia and Lao Westcoast Helicopter Company was purchased. HNZ’s head office is based in Nelson, New Zealand and was first registered to operate in 1955. The beginnings of this company, was also aerial spraying.  Over the years HNZ has gained experience as an international operator with experience in offshore, marine pilot transfer services, and Antarctica.

The growth of HNZ Group was multifaceted and purposeful. We expanded our charter operations to service new clientele in industries such as oil & gas, mineral exploration, military support, hydro/utilities, forest management, construction, air ambulance, search & rescue, and film & tourism.

Further expansion occurred geographically with HNZ Group operating in four continents and under four brands:

  • HNZ
  • Canadian Helicopters
  • Nampa Valley Helicopters, and
  • Heli-Welders

HNZ Group was a public company on the Toronto Stock Exchange from 2005 until 2017, when the company split its operations between two purchasers. The operations of Canadian Helicopters, Nampa Valley Helicopters and Heli-Welders was purchased by HNZ Group’s President and CEO, Don Wall, and the international HNZ offshore business in New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea was acquired by PHI, Inc.