Civil Defence wakes up thousands with test alerts

New Zealand 04/10/2017

Civil Defence is under fire after waking up thousands of people across the country in the middle of the night.

Alert notifications, including a high-pitch ringtone, were sent between 1:30am and 2am on Wednesday morning. Many alerts were sent multiple times to the same device.

Civil Defence has since apologised, explaining it was simply testing its emergency mobile alerts, which are still in a development phase.

"We are aware that some early testing is happening, and unfortunately a small number of the public's phones have picked up these tests at an inconvenient hour," it said in a Facebook post.

After being criticised for saying it only affected a "small number" of users in the comments section, the post was edited.

"We apologise to those who have been inconvenienced, and will request all testing is carried out during daylight hours in future."

Ministry director Sarah Stuart Black says the alert was accidentally sent by its European app provider.

"Test messages were sent to the public in error, when they were supposed to be restricted to a contained environment," she explained.

"I want to say sorry to every person who was woken."

But sorry isn't enough for a number of Kiwis, who took to social media in the hours afterwards to complain at being woken up.