By international standards, New Zealand is a safe country to live in.
All the same, it is wise to know what to do if there is trouble and what you can do to avoid it.
The New Zealand Police website has a number of tips for keeping yourself and your family safe. Some of the issues covered include:
- being safe at home and when out on the street or driving
- dealing with an intruder, prowler or burglar and securing your home
- setting limits on driving, alcohol and parties for your teenagers
- rules and advice about caring for children
- keeping safe in rural areas and at sea.
Domestic or family violence
Domestic or family violence is against the law in New Zealand. It covers physical, sexual or psychological abuse, as well as threats and damage to property.
Family violence includes:
- abuse by partners
- abuse and neglect of children
- abuse and neglect of the elderly.
A healthy family is supportive and safe. No one should be scared by someone in their family, and no one should use culture as an excuse for violence or force.
If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 111 for help.
Police and other agencies in New Zealand take family violence seriously. They have people who can help, and they can arrange for interpreters who speak your language. You do not have to leave your family to get help.
If you are worried for your own or someone else's safety, the following organisations have 24-hour crisis phone lines:
- Women’s Refuge - 0800 733 843
- It’s not OK Information Line - 0800 456 450
- HELP sexual abuse services - 09 623 1700
- The Ministry for Vulnerable Children - Oranga Tamariki - 0508 326 459.
Women of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin can also contact Shakti Women's Refuge on their multilingual 24-hour crisis line on 0800 742 584.
For more information on how you can access online support, counselling services, and safe accommodation, see the links below.
Special visas for victims of domestic violence
You may be concerned about what will happen to your visa if you leave your relationship. You might be able to get a special visa if your visa conditions depend on an abusive partner who is a New Zealand citizen or resident.
Punishing children physically
Smacking children or using physical force to punish or discipline them is illegal in New Zealand.
The Community Law website has more information.
Unlawful cultural practices
Some cultural practices are against the law in New Zealand and carry serious punishments.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) or 'cutting' is against the law in New Zealand under the Crimes Act, even if the woman or girl wants it done. There is a maximum jail term of seven years for anyone found guilty of practising FGM.
It is also illegal to make any arrangement for a New Zealand citizen or resident or child to leave New Zealand for FGM to be performed or to encourage any person in New Zealand to perform FGM on a New Zealand citizen or resident outside New Zealand.
Shakti Women's Refuge has information on unlawful cultural practices. Contact Shakti on 0800 742 584 for help.
Online safety is more important than ever as people spend more and more time online. Anyone can be targeted by online bullying and scams. Young people and the elderly can be especially vulnerable to online exploitation.
Netsafe.org.nz has advice and tips for parents, young people, the elderly and business owners on their website, and a form for reporting online safety and security incidents.
Protecting your home and vehicle
The New Zealand Police website has a range of practical tips and checklists to help you protect your home and vehicle from crime.
Many local communities have Neighbourhood Support groups where neighbours work together to help make communities safer and more caring.
These groups can help to encourage neighbours to look out for anything unusual in the area and work together to deal with any natural disasters.
See if there is a group in your area. If not, you could think about starting one yourself.
Keeping safe outdoors
Living in a country with such spectacular scenery and so many recreational opportunities, you may well find yourself spending a lot of time outdoors. If and when you do, you need to be aware of the basic safety rules.
New Zealand’s weather can be very changeable, so be prepared for every eventuality.
If you are planning an outdoor trip or adventure, check the online outdoor safety codes. Along with information on how to stay safe on land, snow and water or in the air, there are simple safety codes you should always follow and links to related safety organisations in New Zealand.
In New Zealand, the sun delivers some of the highest levels of UV radiation in the world.
It is very easy to get sunburnt here - and getting burned increases the risk of skin cancer.
Go online for tips on how to keep yourself and your family safe in the sun.
In New Zealand, the sea is cold and it can be dangerous. Sea and weather conditions can change quickly. Most drownings in New Zealand happen at beaches and when people are in boats on the sea or lakes.
If you plan to swim or fish in the sea or go out in a boat, make sure you always check the weather forecast first. Wear a life jacket and take safety equipment in your boat. For more information, visit our Stay water safe page.
If you are interested in owning or using a rifle, handgun or any type of firearm for hunting or other sports, there are a number of laws and regulations that you must be aware of.
New Zealand offers some great opportunities for recreational hunting. If you plan to take advantage of them, go online for information and tips for safe hunting.
in New Zealand, people drive on the left!
Before you start driving in New Zealand, it is important to understand how to keep safe on our roads.
The NZTA has produced a must-read booklet about driving in New Zealand. It explains everything you need to know about staying safe and obeying New Zealand’s driving laws. The booklet is available in 14 languages.
Everyone in a vehicle must wear a seat belt in New Zealand. Child restraint seats must be used for all children until 7 years of age. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has more information about child restraints.