By international standards, New Zealand is a safe and easy country to live in.
All the same, it’s 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:
- avoiding scams
- burglar-proofing your house and dealing with intruders
- keeping safe on the street at night
- setting limits on alcohol and parties with teenagers
- rules and advice about caring for children
- keeping safe in the outdoors.
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, as well as arranging 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.
Protecting your home and vehicle
The New Zealand Police website has a range of practical tips and a checklist 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 keep an eye out for anything unusual in the community, as well as working together to deal with any natural disasters.
Go online to see if there is a group in your area. If there isn’t, you could take the initiative and start one yourself.
Keeping safe outdoors
Living in a country with such spectacular scenery and so many recreational opportunities, you may well find yourself spending more time in the great outdoors. If and when you do, you need to respect a few basic safety rules.
To start with, our weather can be very changeable, so you need to be prepared for every eventuality.
If you’re planning an outdoor trip or adventure, make sure you’re familiar with the safety basics.
There’s an outdoor safety code available online you should check. Along with information on how to stay safe on land, snow, water or in the air, there are simple safety codes you should always follow, as well as 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 extremely 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.
If you’re 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.