Nationwide test of Emergency Mobile Alert system

16 May 2022, 11:00 AM


On May 22, there will be a phone alert you can’t ignore – but don’t worry, it’s just a test.

This year’s nationwide test of the Emergency Mobile Alert system will take place on Sunday 22 May between 6-7pm.

Gary Knowles, Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management says Emergency Mobile Alert is a vital information channel for alerting people to threats to their life, health or property.

“The nationwide test is a way to check our systems, the cell towers and your phone’s ability to receive an Emergency Mobile Alert, so we have confidence it will perform as it should in an emergency.

Mr Knowles says when emergencies happen, Emergency Mobile Alert is a vital channel to help keep our communities safe.

“Our findings from the 2021 Disaster preparedness survey reported that 90% of New Zealanders either received a EMA themselves or were near someone who did in the last year. This is great and I think we’re likely to see a similar proportion receiving an alert to their phone on test night this year.” 

Mr Knowles reminds us that Emergency Mobile Alert is an additional channel to help keep Aotearoa safe in an emergency and does not replace other ways to stay informed or natural warnings.

“No form of technology is completely failsafe, so it doesn’t replace other alerting channels such as radio or social media, or the need to act upon natural warning signs. If you feel your life is in danger, don’t wait for an official warning. Remember – if an earthquake is long or strong, get gone.”

For more information on Emergency Mobile Alert and to see if your phone is capable of receiving the alerts, visit Emergency Mobile Alert — Get Ready — Emergency preparedness in New Zealand .


What you need to know:

  • No need to subscribe. You don’t need to sign up or download an app.  Just make sure your phone is on and capable of receiving an alert, and your operating system is up to date. You can find out whether your phone can receive the alerts here
  • Works by geo-targeting. Emergency Mobile Alerts can also be targeted to affected areas, so you will only get them if the emergency is in your area. Sunday’s test alert will be sent to all areas in New Zealand with mobile coverage.
  • You can’t opt out. As Emergency Mobile Alert is about keeping you safe, you won’t be able to opt-out. Your phones may show optional settings used in other countries, but in New Zealand we will use a special broadcast channel that is permanently on.
  • Who can send an alert? Emergency Mobile Alert messages can only be sent by the National Emergency Management Agency, Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups, NZ Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Primary Industries. Alerts will only be sent when there are serious threats to life, health and property, and, like this month, for test purposes.
  • Don’t ditch the radio. Emergency Mobile Alert is an additional channel to help keep people ni New Zealand safe in an emergency and does not replace other alerting channels such as radio, television, websites and social media, 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. Remember – Long or strong, get gone.
  • What if I’m driving? If you are driving when you receive an alert, wait until it is safe to stop and then check the message.
  • Make a plan. Take the time to make your own emergency plan which includes what to do, where to go, who can help you and who might need your help. You can make a plan online here

Find out more about Emergency Mobile Alerts here