What we do

The National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO) provides strategic leadership for the emergency ambulance sector and is the commissioner of emergency ambulance services on behalf of the funders Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand and ACC. It has been part of Te Whatu Ora since the health reforms came into effect on 1 July 2022.   


  • plans and commissions emergency ambulance services and provides monitoring and oversight across the sector 
  • works with funders and providers to resolve issues, improve services and find system efficiencies 
  • is committed to Te Titriti o Waitangi and working in partnership with Te Aka Whai Ora as co-commissioners  
  • works with providers and the wider health and emergency services sectors to ensure emergency ambulance services contribute to better, more equitable health outcomes for Māori.   

For more information on what we do, contact us 

Calling 111 for an ambulance

Anyone can call Healthline free on 0800 611 116 for health advice and information, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

To call an ambulance for an accident or medical emergency, dial 111 and ask for an ambulance. The ambulance call taker will ask questions to prioritise your call and make sure you get the help you need.  

  • Urgent, life-threatening situations such as cardiac arrest and serious trauma are the highest priority for ambulance services. If the ambulance call taker assesses your situation as potentially life-threatening or urgent, they will get an ambulance to you as soon as possible. 
  • If an ambulance is the best help for you but your situation is not potentially life-threatening or urgent, the ambulance may not arrive immediately.  
  • If there is going to be a delay, the ambulance communications centre will call regularly to check on your welfare and see if things have changed. If things have got worse, they will provide appropriate advice and may increase the priority of your case. 

For more information about what happens when you call 111, visit the St. John Ambulance website.

Who provides emergency ambulance services

NASO contracts providers to deliver these services across the motu. Providers employ trained paramedics and skilled volunteers. Air providers also employ aviation crew.

New Zealand’s emergency ambulance service has three main parts:   

  1. Road ambulances  
  2. Air ambulance – this includes helicopters and planes 
  3. Communications – take 111 calls, provide clinical care to people calling 111 and dispatch road and air ambulances. 

Road ambulances 

Wellington Free Ambulance covers Wellington, Hutt and Wairarapa. St John covers the rest of New Zealand. 

Communications centres 

Three communications centres (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch) work together as a virtual centre, which includes a clinical hub (to provide clinical care) and the Air Desk, which assigns missions to air ambulances.  

PRIME Services 

The Primary Response in Medical Emergencies (PRIME) service aims to ensure high quality, timely access to pre-hospital emergency treatment in areas where standard ambulance services are not close by, or where ambulance service response times may be longer than usual. 

St John tasks the PRIME responders as a co-response to support the ambulance service in rural and remote areas. 

St John administers this programme for both Te Whatu Ora (for health-related services).  and ACC contracts directly with providers (for injury-related services).

Air ambulances and patient transfers by helicopter  

Air ambulance and patient transfers by fixed-wing aircraft (plane)  

Find out more about paramedics and paramedicine on the Paramedic Registration Council website.



The majority of emergency ambulance funding is from the Government and ACC levied accounts.  

Emergency ambulance services are funded by Te Whatu Ora (for medical patients) and ACC (for injured patients). The balance is funded through donations, fundraising and, in the case of St John, charging people who use an ambulance for a small part of the cost (this only applies to medical patients).  

Read more about our funding reviews

What we expect from our providers

Standards and accreditation  

Ambulance service providers are required to meet certain standards and maintain appropriate accreditation. These include:  

  • NZS 8156: 2019 Ambulance, paramedicine and patient transfer services  
  • ISO 9001: 2015 Quality Management Systems  
  • The New Zealand Aeromedical and Air Rescue Standard V3.0 2018 (for air providers)  
  • Relevant regulations and certification of the Civil Aviation Authority (for air providers).

Paramedic registration  

Te Kaunihera Manapou Paramedic Council is the regulatory authority responsible for the registration of paramedics. Its job is to protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring that paramedics are competent and fit to practise.  

Performance reporting  

Providers are required to report to NASO regularly against key performance indicators. This means we can track performance, identify any issues and make informed decisions about how to improve services.

For more information on performance reports, contact us at naso@health.govt.nz

Adverse event reporting 

Most callers and patients receive an excellent service from ambulance service providers. Occasionally, something happens that impacts a patient’s care or outcome These are called ‘adverse events’. Find out more in the publications section. 

Aeromedical Commissioning Programme (ACP)

Air ambulance services are a vital part of New Zealand’s emergency ambulance network. Air ambulances and their crew provide the initial treatment and transfer of patients from medical or injury events in the community to hospital. They also transport patients between hospitals for more appropriate care.  

This programme aims to transform New Zealand’s air ambulance services into an integrated high-quality aeromedical service.  The aeromedical service incorporates air ambulances (both rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft), associated road ambulance transfers, hospital services and tasking and clinical coordination.  


ACP Clinical and Technical Advisory Group

The Clinical and Technical Advisory Group (CTAG) is made up of representatives from across the aeromedical sector. 

The group provides technical and clinical expertise, advice and support to the Aeromedical Commissioning Programme (ACP) team in the National Ambulance Sector Office.

The group provides oversight from across the aeromedical sector, advocates for efficient and effective outcomes and best practice, and champions the ACP.


Find out who's on our Clinical and Technical Advisory Group

NASO Newsletters

Aeromedical Commissioning Programme (ACP)

Sign up to the newsletter by sending us an email at aeromedicalprogramme@health.govt.nz.

Your privacy

We'll manage your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 2020, Health Information Privacy Code 2020 and other relevant legislation. The Privacy Act 2020 regulates us through the Information Privacy Principles as to how we collect, use, hold, disclose, access, correct, manage and dispose of your personal information.

Where you voluntarily provide personal information (eg, through online forms or email requests), we will only use your personal information for the purposes for which you gave it to us. When providing us with information, please carefully read any privacy statement provided at that point.

For more information visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner website.


Pātiki and Waharua Kōpito patterns

NASO Publications

Read our latest reports, news and contracts.