More Kiwis getting emergency message

Almost twice as many people received the test Civil Defence emergency alert to their mobile phone at its last test – meaning more New Zealanders than ever are capable of getting a heads-up in an emergency.

Minister of Civil Defence Hon Kris Faafoi says six out of 10 Kiwis (60 percent) received the test alert, a sharp increase on last year’s figure of 34 percent. The reach rises to seven out of every ten (69 percent) receiving the alert when it includes people who didn’t receive the alert themselves but were near somebody who did.

“New Zealanders can take comfort in how quickly the system has consolidated itself as a critical alerting channel,” Kris Faafoi says. “Emergency Mobile Alerts can now be received by most mobile phones sold in New Zealand, including models costing as little as $29. This means more Kiwis can be warned via their phone about potentially life-threatening emergencies.

“We know from international experience that once you hit about 70 percent penetration, a critical mass is achieved in which you generate word of mouth that quickly spreads to just about everyone. We expected it to take about three years to reach that figure, so I am pleased we’re on track to exceed that because it is another step to keeping people safe."

Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Public Information Manager Drew Mehrtens says word of mouth is vital in spreading the warning people receive. "If you're one of the people who receives a warning, please don't assume those around you know about it and pass on the information you have received in your alert message. Especially remember your family and anyone you know who may not yet receive these messages ."

Kris Faafoi says that other vital emergency information channels – such as radio, TV, online and social media – mean New Zealand has robust arrangements for informing people about emergencies.

“The more people who can receive warnings, whether through more traditional means or these alerts, the safer we all are.”

The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management is working with manufacturers and vendors to address some of the issues with how different handsets behave.

”We’re really grateful to 2degrees, Spark and Vodafone, who partnered with the Government to deliver the project. Without them throwing their weight behind this system, we wouldn’t be seeing such strong pickup.”


The Emergency Mobile Alert is an additional channel to help keep New Zealand safe in an emergency and does not replace other alerting systems and information channels, or the need to take action after natural warnings. 

If you feel your life may be in danger, don’t wait for an official warning. Take immediate action.  For example in local source tsunami, there may not be time to send an alert before the first waves strike. Recognise the natural warnings and get safe – ‘Long or Strong, Get Gone’.

Emergency Mobile Alert messages can only be sent by the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, NZ Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

More information on Emergency Mobile Alert is available here(external link).

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