Nationwide test of Emergency Mobile Alert system

Note: this news item refers to the 2018 test. The 2019 nationwide test of Emergency Mobile Alert will be held on the evening of 24 November 2019. You should expect to receive a test alert that evening sometime between 6 and 7 pm.

A nationwide test of the Emergency Mobile Alert system will be undertaken on Sunday 25 November between 6pm and 7pm.

Sarah Stuart-Black, Director of the Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management, says annual tests of the system will help to ensure that it is working effectively, while helping to familiarise the public with what to expect and how it works.

“By running this test and asking people to be aware of the alerts, we are able to test our systems, the cell towers and your phone’s ability to receive an Emergency Mobile Alert,” Mrs Stuart-Black says.

“This is just a test, but when emergencies happen, Emergency Mobile Alert will be a vital channel to help keep our communities safe.

“Not all phones are currently capable of receiving the alerts, so we need people to look after each other: if you receive an alert, tell your neighbours, your whanau, your colleagues.”

A nationwide campaign is underway, letting people know about the test and where to find out more information.

The system, which was launched last year with the first nationwide test alert, has been well received, with around three in four New Zealanders expressing confidence in the system.

Mrs Stuart-Black says, “The system brings some real benefits - we can geographically target areas, you don’t need to download an app, we don’t need your personal details, and it doesn’t get affected by network congestion.

“Last year’s nationwide test was not only invaluable in spreading awareness of the system, but also in highlighting issues with some handsets, so we could work through them with the manufacturers.”

The test alert message will contain a link to the Civil Defence website, where recipients will be able to fill in a survey that will help to inform further improvements to the system.

It is expected that around half of all phones will be able to receive alerts, compared to around one third when the system was launched at this time last year. You can check whether your phone can receive the alert and find out more at

Mrs Stuart-Black says Emergency Mobile Alert is an additional channel to help keep New Zealand safe in an emergency and does not replace other information channels such as radio, 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.  For example in local source tsunami, there may not be time to send an alert before the first waves strike. Please recognise the natural warnings and get safe – ‘Long or Strong, Get Gone’”.

For more information on Emergency Mobile Alert, visit


 What do I need to do before the live test?

  • Find out whether your phone can receive the alerts at
  • Ensure your phone is on the most up to date operating system.

 What does the test alert look like and what do I need to do when I receive it?

  • The alert will look different on different phones, check our website to see what an alert looks and sounds like.
  • Read the message, it should have the word ‘test’, if you have received the alert and it says ‘test’ there is nothing further for you to do.
  • If you receive an Emergency Mobile Alert, take the alert seriously, stop what you are doing and follow the instructions. Remember to tune in to other information channels too, such as radio, social media and websites.

 How does Emergency Mobile Alert work?

  • The alerts are sent using cell broadcast technology, so there is no need to sign up or download an app.
  • The alerts can also be targeted to affected areas, so you will only get them if the emergency is in your area.
  • If your phone is on, capable of receiving them and inside the targeted area, you should get the alerts.
  • Emergency Mobile Alerts use a dedicated signal, so they are more reliable in an emergency when mobile phone and internet traffic could overload the network.
  • It doesn’t matter which network you are on. Any capable phone entering the targeted area during the broadcast period will receive the alert.

*Not all phones are capable of receiving alerts, so if you receive an alert, let others know. You can check whether your phone can receive the alert and find out more at

Emergency Mobile Alert messages can only be sent by:

  • Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management,
  • Civil Defence Emergency Management Groups,
  • NZ Police, Fire and Emergency New Zealand,
  • Ministry of Health, and
  • Ministry for Primary Industries.

Emergency Mobile Alert does not replace other channels

Emergency Mobile Alert is another channel used for keeping you safe if there is an emergency. Other channels, such as radio, TV, websites and social media will still be used.  The alerts do not replace other alerting systems, or the need to take action after natural warnings. 

You should still be prepared for an emergency, and you shouldn’t wait to get an alert before you act. If you feel your life may be in danger, don’t wait for an official warning. Take immediate action. 

If you’re near the coast and you experience an earthquake that lasts longer than a minute or makes it difficult to stand up, then head inland or to higher ground immediately.  Remember – Long or Strong, Get Gone.

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 at


Find out more about Emergency Mobile Alerts at  



Published: Nov 13, 2018, 3:39 PM