NZ emergency phone alert testing rolls out this weekend

New Zealanders can expect an emergency phone alert from Civil Defence on their cell phones this Sunday as part of a live nationwide testing regime for emergency alerts, and it's something New Zealanders can't opt out of.

Emergency alerts are now coming directly to your mobile.

Minister of Civil Defence Chris Faa'foi says, “It's a very reliable system, unlike a normal text or sms we're using a different technology that's because traditional text or sms service is prone to get overloaded so we wanted to make sure that messages are getting through.”

People should receive their test alert between 6 - 7pm on Sunday night and it comes at no cost to the cell phone user.

“For the test on Sunday we're going to be sending out messages countrywide right across NZ but in the real emergency it depends on the situation we are able to target messages to certain parts of the country if need be.”

The system is designed to warn New Zealand of a natural disaster and is not meant to replace other emergency alerts that may be in place locally.

“It's quite a sizeable investment for civil defence it's going to cost $18 million dollars to make sure we can set this up properly and to run over the next four years but that is to make sure that we get the best possible information to New Zealanders whether they be in Northland or Southland.”

Not all cell phones are compatible with the new technology designed for smartphones. However, those who do receive the alert aren't able to opt out.