Be Alert New Zealand

  • David Carter
Associate Minister for Food, Fibre, Biosecurity and Border Control

Every New Zealander can play a vital role in helping Customs protect our borders, simply by being alert, and by adopting a team approach to being vigilant, the Associate Minister for Border Control, David Carter said today.

"Customs wants local community assistance, because they're the people with the greatest knowledge about what activities within their community are normal, and what are not," said Mr Carter.

"Recent public interest generated by the potential threat of illegal immigration has raised the focus on why Customs has 700 Coast Watch personnel continually monitoring for suspicious or illegal activity."

"Even in the most remote areas of our expansive 11,000 kilometre coastline, a perceptive group or individual, can play a vital role in protecting the country's borders, simply by acting immediately and alerting Customs to the activity. That action could make a real difference," said Mr Carter.

"Prompt reporting by a marine radio operator to Customs is one example of how the public can play a vital role in the detection of suspect vessels off the coast of New Zealand."

"I encourage every New Zealander who sees any unusual or suspicious activity in remote or off shore locations to immediately inform Coast Watch on their 24 hour free phone number 0800 - 654 - 279."

"We cannot rest on our laurels, nor have the opinion, that globally, New Zealand is far too distant for unusual vessels or persons or illegal activity, not to threaten our shores."

"Protecting our sparsely populated coastline is an enormous task for Customs. We all need to keep our eyes and ears open and always be alert. Every New Zealander should be prepared to play his or her part."

"Sustained vigilance is essential, especially by those who are ideally placed, to notice unusual or suspicious incidents on remote beaches, inland coastal areas, and out at sea," Mr Carter said.

"Customs is preparing for an influx of charter vessels, small aircraft and a large number of yachts who will be attending the America's Cup, and new Millennium celebrations. A new poster featuring Coast Watch activities is being distributed," Mr Carter said.