Radio New Zealand is to conduct a national civil defence exercise this weekend.
National Radio and Concert FM will originate programmes from Auckland studios between 6 am Saturday and 6 pm Sunday in an exercise designed to test network emergency management systems. The two day exercise coincides with construction work at Radio New Zealand House which would have made it unpleasant for staff to carry out normal duties and may have intruded on live programmes.
Radio New Zealand has a critical role in national civil defence emergency planning and the public broadcaster is considered a ‘lifeline utility’ under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Bill.
Radio New Zealand Chief Executive, Sharon Crosbie, says the weekend is an opportunity for staff to test their ability to continue operating in the event of an emergency affecting Wellington:
“ In any civil defence emergency, such as a major earthquake, it is absolutely critical that we are able to keep the New Zealand public informed about what is happening, and what they need to do, she said. Radio may provide a lifeline for many after a major disaster.”
Civil defence advice to the public is to have a battery-operated radio handy, and to tune in to their radio station for information during an emergency. The importance of the Radio New Zealand exercise is reinforced by John Norton, Director of the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management:
“ Radio is a primary source of communication during an emergency and radio networks need to be capable of operating during and after an emergency. Exercises such as these are an essential part of the planning process to ensure that agencies have the capability to cope when disaster strikes "
In any situation where Radio New Zealand House in Wellington cannot function effectively, contingency planning would see broadcasting originate from the Auckland studios of Radio New Zealand.